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Japanese govt fumbling over energy policy, as election nears

Japan pays lip service to nuclear phase-out Winnipeg Free Press, 21 Sept 12 By: The Economist With doubts running high about how long the Japanese government can survive, its decision last week to phase out nuclear power by the end of the 2030s looked half-baked. Sure enough, on Sept. 19 it dropped any pretense of a deadline, leaving open the possibility that at least two reactors under construction could operate until the 2050s.

The ambiguity has much to do with the general election which Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to call soon. Polling indicates that, since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, public opinion has turned firmly against nuclear energy. Big business argues, however, that Japan’s economy will suffer if the phase-out occurs too quickly. Local governors whose prefectures host nuclear-power plants also complain about the strategy.

For the time being, the government’s policy appears to be to pay lip service to a phase-out that it is too timid to implement, while also scrambling for alternative sources of energy. Even before the nuclear disaster, Japan was the world’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, and now it consumes nearly a third of global output. But ensuring reliable supplies, as well as securing a good price, is becoming a foreign-policy headache….


September 22, 2012 - Posted by | general

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