Japan to refocus on nuclear power despite the legacy of Fukushima

Japan to refocus on nuclear power despite the legacy of Fukushima

Sawako Utsumi and Sawako Uchida 

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan plans to refocus on the nuclear sector in Japan. Hence, the long-term goal is for nuclear power to account for 22% of the electricity supply by 2030 – from the low base of 3.9% in fiscal 2021. 

Kishida also insists on releasing treated water from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant -which led Japan to turn away from the nuclear angle after the crisis in 2011. Thus another recent nuclear mishap at the Mihama Nuclear Plant tampers confidence in the ability of Japan concerning safety. The Mihama Nuclear Plant was discovered to have leaked radioactive water.

Opposition to Kishida’s policy of releasing treated water into the sea concerns regional nations and the local fishing sector in Fukushima. The Fukushima Fisheries Co-operative Association is alarmed by the position of the Kishida administration. 

Nozaki Tetsu, a representative of the above association, said, “From 25,000 tonnes per year before 2011, only 5000 tonnes of fish are now caught… We are against the release of radioactive materials into our waters. What worries us is the negative reputation this creates.”

Ironically, Japan announced last year that it aimed to focus on a strategic energy policy outside of the nuclear sector. Thus the u-turn concerns the enormous stresses of obtaining enough energy – alongside the negative economic situation. 

Reuters reports, “… the new policy, which was approved by an expert panel under the industry ministry on Friday, would allow existing nuclear reactors to operate beyond the current limit of 60 years as well as support the development of new ones.”

The rising cost of energy and lack of domestic fossil fuels in Japan – along with the nuclear grid not being connected with other nations – entails that Kishida is refocusing on the nuclear sector despite internal opposition. This concerns extending the life of nuclear reactors to commissioning new nuclear power plants.

However, the legacy of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant remains. Hence, with Japan still not solving this crisis over one decade later – and with Japan stating that it was turning away from the nuclear sector – then citizens in Japan are rightly concerned by the changing policies of Kishida.

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