Japan and the Issue of Nuclear Energy

Japan can expect a shortage of 8,500 MW this summer (2012). Japan’s electricity consumption was estimated in 2011 as being 859.7 billion kWh. As a resource poor country, however, Japan needs to import 84% of its energy requirements. In 2010, Japan generated 1,080 billion kWh gross, 27% from coal, 27% from gas, 27% from nuclear, 9% from oil and 7% from hydro. Final consumption was 965 billion kWh, or about 7,500 kWh per capita. Energy experts in Japan have proposed three nuclear-generated energy options to the Noda Government:

  • Zero nuclear power as soon as possible
  • A 15% share of electricity by 2030
  • A 20% to 25% share by 2030, compared to almost 30% before the Fukushima disaster 

Under pressure from business interests that are worried about stable electricity supply, Prime Minister Noda has been thought to be leaning toward the 15% option, which would require all of Japan’s 50 reactors to resume operation before gradually closing older units.
In terms of criticism of Japan’s nuclear energy policies over the years are the views of the highly respected Japanese Nobel Literature Laureate, Kenzaburo Oe. He says that following World War Two, the nation’s government and media worked together to promote a pro-nuclear agenda. He says that Matsutaro Shoriki, the media tycoon who owned one of Japan’s largest circulating newspapers, the Yomiuri Shimbun, worked with one time Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone to publicize the benefits of nuclear power. The above map provides details of Japan’s network of nuclear reactors and their generating capacity.

Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 3 No. 4

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