Japan from the inside out

Compare and contrast

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 15, 2012

HERE’S one of the top stories of the day yesterday from Japan. It appeared in many news outlets around the world:

Japan’s government said it intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s, marking a major shift from policy goals set before last year’s Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply.

Japan joins countries such as Germany and Switzerland in turning away from nuclear power after last year’s earthquake unleashed a tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. Japan was the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster.

In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future…

…“This is a strategy to create a new future,” a policy statement said, after key ministers finalized the decision on Friday. “It is not pie in the sky. It is a practical strategy.”…

…By applying a strict 40-year limit on the lifetime of reactors, most will be shut down by the 2030s.

The same story was reported in Japan in the same way.

Now here’s another story reported today by the Yomiuri Shimbun, only in Japanese:

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry authorizes the construction of Oma Nuclear Plant Reactor #3 in Shimane

On September 15, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano Yukio met in Aomori City with Aomori Gov. Mimura Shingo and the mayors of municipalities where nuclear facilities are located. He told them he would authorize the resumption of construction and operation of the Oma Nuclear Power Plant in Oma-cho, Aomori, and Reactor #3 of the Shimane Nuclear Power Plant in Matsue, Shimane, which had been suspended after the Tohoku earthquake.

If construction resumes, it would be the first construction of nuclear reactors since the disaster.

As part of the “Revolutionary Strategy for Energy and the Environment” adopted on September 14, the national government set 2030 as the target for stopping nuclear power plant operation. If the government rule of limiting nuclear power plant operation to 40 years is applied, these plants will be allowed to operate into the 2050s. This quickly exposed a contradiction in the new energy strategy.

Mr. Edano said at the meeting:

“The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is not thinking of changing its position on those nuclear power plants with permits and construction plans for building a reactor.”

This indicates the ministry’s intention to allow the resumption of construction and operation if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirms their safety. The Commission will be established on September 19.

Construction has been partially completed on Reactor #1 at the Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant in Higashidori-mura, Aomori, by Tokyo Electric Power. Mr. Edano said, however:

“Tokyo Electric is not yet at the stage to discuss nuclear energy.”

This indicates construction at the Higashidori Reactor #1 will not resume now.

2030 is far, far away, the Democratic Party government is not long for this world, national defense requirements will push the issue in the opposite direction, and the nuclear power interests haven’t gone to sleep.

Expect Japan to go nuclear free when it goes nuclear free, and not before.

Here’s another power company asking if you’re ready for it.

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