Despite the widespread distrust and opposition to nuclear power amongst the Japanese people, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) looks set to follow advice from a government panel which suggested Japan needs to begin using nuclear power once more, as an important and fundamental energy source to the country’s energy mix.
In the wake of the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011, which highlighted the regulatory deficiencies and an industry-wide lack of preparation for nuclear disasters, the previous LDP decided to begin shutting down the country’s nuclear reactors, depriving the economy of an important source of cheap, clean energy which used to supply 30% of the country’s power.
The country’s reactors have remained in shut-down mode as a new industry watchdog creates stricter regulations and thoroughly inspects all reactors for faults, sub-par systems, and their ability to resist natural disasters in the future.
Since taking power at the end of last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown interest in restarting Japan’s nuclear plants, as a means to reduce the nation’s reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports, for which demand has boomed, driving up electricity prices and increasing the country’s trade deficit to a record level.
The new report compiled by the panel, wrote that “nuclear energy is an important and fundamental base energy source that will support the stability of energy demand and supply,” offering Abe the support that he needs to finally bring nuclear power back to Japan.
Opposition to nuclear power is still strong, and nearly all of the country’s political parties remain against the idea. The report suggested that in order to create some more support for the industry, the government should publicise all information on the new safety measures that will prevent such disasters from happening again in the future, along with the new regulatory standards demanded of all nuclear power plants, and the economic benefits that nuclear power would bring.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com