Japanese government out of step with public on nuclear power
“the demonstrations started out with 500, then several thousand and have now even reached 150,000. Each week, they have grown.”
The dissent on the issue of nuclear energy is bringing to the fore tensions between the political establishment and public will.
“Japan could easily end its reliance on the nuclear energy. From May 5 to July 5, Japan was nuclear free. No single power plant operated and there were no black outs…Japan is the most ideal country for renewable energy. We have sun. We have wind everywhere. What is missing is the political will.”.
After Fukushima, Nuclear Power on Collision Course With Japanese Public The Indypendent, BY TINA GERHARDTJULY 25, 2012 “….. in May, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, in the face of overwhelming public opposition, decided to restart Japan’s nuclear power plants. Now, a growing movement is protesting the decision.
Weekly demonstrations, with turnout initially numbering in the hundreds, have been taking place on Friday evenings in front of the Prime Minister’s office. People show up after work and school. And their numbers have been swelling, reaching into the thousands in recent weeks.
Japan is the third-largest consumer of nuclear energy, after the U.S.
and France, and is followed by Russia and Germany. Japan is also the
world’s third largest economy. Nuclear power plants generate about 30%
of Japan’s energy needs. During the shutdown of its nuclear power
plants, utility companies have turned to coal, oil and gas to supply
electricity to industries and households.
Additionally, Japan, already the world’s biggest importer of liquefied
natural gas (LNG) bought record amounts of LNG last year to replace
the nuclear energy…… the public remains staunchly opposed to
nuclear energy in Japan. Since March, weekly demonstrations have taken
place on Fridays at 6pm in front of the Prime Minister’s office.
According to Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action, a Japan-based
organization working to end nuclear power, “the demonstrations started out with 500, then several thousand and have now even reached 150,000. Each week, they have grown.”
The first reactor at the Oi nuclear power plant was restarted on July
9. Thousands of people across Japan marched against the country’s
The second reactor was restarted July 18, and came two days after one
of the largest protests against nuclear power in Japan since the
Fukushima disaster, as tens of thousands protested in Tokyo….
The dissent on the issue of nuclear energy is bringing to the fore tensions between the political establishment and public will. Ex-Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who preceded Kan, joined the July 20 rally,
saying, “I regret that politics has strayed so far from the people’s
wishes.” Kan resigned last August and was succeeded by Prime Minister
The turnover also speaks to a crisis in the government, which has seen
six ministers in five years and has largely lost the voters’
confidence. On the upside, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and
Industry Yukio Edano approved the introduction of feed-in-tariffs on
June 18, 2012. This system has proven very beneficial in Germany,
employing a percentage of energy use fees to subsidize renewable
Japan hopes to ramp up its renewable energy to the point where it
constitutes 25% to 35% of its energy source by 2030. Kazue Suzuki from
Greenpeace says, “Japan could easily end its reliance on the nuclear
energy. From May 5 to July 5, Japan was nuclear free. No single power
plant operated and there were no black outs…Japan is the most ideal
country for renewable energy. We have sun. We have wind everywhere.
What is missing is the political will.”…. with the government
increasingly in crisis and at odds with the public and with
demonstrations rising, it looks like it will have to be the people’s
voice that forces a shift away from nuclear power.
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