Japan Moves Toward Nuclear-Free Future

An anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo. (photo: SandoCap via Flickr)

Japan Moves Toward Nuclear-Free Future

Plan for nuclear phase-out by 2040 announced

Japan has announced a plan for zero reliance on nuclear energy by the end of the 2030s following widespread protests over the energy since the Fukushima disaster.

Officials made the statement on Wednesday, while a government paper released Friday made the announcement, stating: "The government will introduce every possible policy resource that would enable nuclear power generation to be at zero during the 2030s."

For Greenpeace International, it's a great plan with a bad timeline.

"The government's strategy involves a nuclear phase-out nearly two decades later than needed. It also provides clarity for the business community that renewable power, not nuclear, is the future," Kazue Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan nuclear campaigner, said in a statement.

"The government must use its new energy strategy as a starting point for a far more ambitious renewable policy, greater energy efficiency measures, and increasingly bold strides towards the sustainable green economy that will secure Japan's future prosperity," stated Suzuki.

The phase-out plan has its skeptics, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. Poneman met with Democratic Party of Japan executive Seiji Maehara and said the plan might have "unexpected effects on the United States and other concerned parties," the Japan Timesreports.

If Japan starts increasing its use on fossil fuels, as Reuters indicates it will, Poneman says "energy prices will change significantly," the Japan Timesreports.

Aileen Mioko Smith of the Kyoto-based, anti-nuclear group Green Action voiced concerns about the plan's aim to maintain Japan's nuclear fuel recycling program, saying it "is proof that the current government is not serious about phasing out nuclear power."

Greenpeace's Suzuki says that a nuclear-free path forward is the only path forward.

"A nuclear-free future is not a choice, it's an inevitability. This energy strategy provides Japan's first real step in eliminating nuclear risks forever, and it will send a message to other countries that it is time to end the use of this dangerous technology once and for all," Suzuki stated.

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