Japan still doesn’t get it: it is time to go nuclear free for good

Japan has released a first draft of a new energy policy that surprisingly, given the Fukushima disaster, still sees a future for nuclear in the country’s energy mix. The plan also calls for an increase in renewables, but the call for restarting reactors is the bad idea in the plan.

Katsutaka Idogawa, the former mayor of Futaba town presents his family tree, which he brought from his old house in Futaba town to his new house in Kazo city, where he evacuated after the disaster of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. 02/19/2014 © Greenpeace / Alex Yallop
Katsutaka Idogawa, the former mayor of Futaba town presents his family tree, which he brought from his old house in Futaba town to his new house in Kazo city, where he evacuated after the disaster of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Right now all 48 reactors still left standing in Japan are offline. For a good deal of the three years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan has lived without any of its reactors operating. There have been no blackouts, people have reduced their demand and the economy is functioning.

By being nuclear free for months on end, Japan has shown it doesn’t need nuclear reactors. The government’s fixation with keeping nuclear in its proposed energy mix shows the lack of leadership of the Abe government on energy policy.

The Abe government has been talking about restarting reactors since it was elected but restarts are still not certain. Clearly, restarting is more complicated than the government has been admitting.

The government could show real leadership on energy policy by doing far more than it has so far to promote the development of renewables.

The draft plan also calls for accelerating renewable power over the coming years. That needs to be supported by policies that turn promises into action.

So far the Abe government has squandered the time since it was elected. It could have used this time to develop more renewable power.

Instead it has drafted a plan that focuses on what management of nuclear utilities want, not the public. It’s a plan that looks to the past and a dirty energy source, not the future which is clean green energy.

There is leadership on renewables in Japan; it is coming from households and municipalities.

Thanks to 400,000 small household installations, solar pv have gone up to a capacity of 6,800 megawatts – roughly equivalent to the capacity of seven reactors in Japan.

This significant growth has come since July 2012 when the previous government introduced a feed in tariff to encourage the development of renewables.

That’s the minimum level of leadership the Abe government should be aiming for to encourage the development of renewables.

When the idea of a plan was announced, 19,000 people and Greenpeace Japan sent in comments. The government hasn’t taken these into account in its draft. If it were listening to the public, the plan would be talking about phasing out nuclear, since that’s what the majority of the public wants.

Brian Blomme is a communications manager with Greenpeace International. He was on the witness tour to Fukushima.

via Greenpeace news http://ift.tt/1fKRrBx http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

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