Just days ago Care2 reported that the Japanese government had formally announced its intention to end the country’s reliance on nuclear power by the 2030′s. The decision had been made by an unpopular administration facing widespread criticism in the face of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It appears that intense pressure from the nuclear power industry and communities that currently depend on nuclear power has convinced the government to retract its former statement, however. On Wednesday the cabinet of the Prime Minister announced that it would keep the phase-out goals in mind, but in the meantime would seek to “engage in debate with local governments and international society and to gain public understanding.”
This almost immediate reversal is shocking, especially for the millions of Japanese that have rallied to end use of nuclear power after seeing the already dire effects of radiation leaks at Fukushima. However, it’s not shocking to see a major government crumble in the face of industry demands. The New York Times reports that on Tuesday “the chairmen of Japan’s most prominent business associations, including the influential Keidanren group, called a rare joint news conference to demand that Mr. Noda abandon the 2040 goal. On Wednesday, they praised the cabinet’s decision.”
Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan got about 30 percent of its electricity from 54 reactors across the country — and planned to increase its reliance to 50 percent. Since the disaster, the country has seen a boom in demand for solar and geothermal energy, and many hoped it would follow Germany in its plan to eliminate nuclear energy within this generation. Apparently in Japan, as in the United States, politics and profits are more important than human health, environmental protection and the independence of renewable energy.
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