Japan, the third largest economy in the world, has relied on nuclear energy to provide 30% of its energy for four decades, but this weekend it became the first major, modern economy to operate without nuclear power.
On Saturday the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor 3 shut down, leaving Japan’s energy grid completely nuclear free.
Junichi Sato of Greenpeace in Japan said that, “there is an increased chance of earthquakes in Japan, so that has a significant risk to the Japanese people and the Japanese economy. The only way forward is to rapidly shift the energy source from nuclear to other sources of energy.”
Although it is not just environmental activists that are behind this movement in Japan, the public is also highly suspicious of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Thousands marched through the streets of Tokyo on Saturday to celebrate the shutdown of the countries final reactor.
In fact it is mainly the public that is responsible for the lack of nuclear power in the country at the moment. After Fukushima, and the devastation it caused to the local communities, the Japanese government demanded that all Nuclear reactors be shut down for maintenance and improvements, and that they can only be turned back on once the communities local to the reactor give them permission’ as of yet that hasn’t happened.
Due to the lack of nuclear power, Japan has had to increase its imports of fossil fuels, but it will not be able to keep this up for long, and the likelihood is that the government will have to enforce rolling blackouts this summer. The Democratic Party of Japan has been urging local communities to allow the reactors to start operating again.
Jesper Koll, economist and managing director at JP Morgan, said that Japan can avoid the economic fallout by defining a clear energy policy, something the government has failed to do so far. “The issue to the private sector of Japan is the government is taking its time in a very emotional, highly politicized debate. And the end result is very, very slow or no decision-making at all. After all, if you don't have an energy policy, you don't really have an economic policy because everything revolves around the energy.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised a clear energy policy sometime this year.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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