The election of an anti-nuclear governor in a region north of Tokyo further challenges Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s energy policy and could mean Japan continues to rely on coal-fired electricity, undermining its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Ryuichi Yoneyama, a political outsider, became governor of Niigata prefecture on Sunday on the basis of his vow to keep a nuclear power plant located there shut. The plant, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station, is the world’s largest and its restart was crucial to owner Tokyo Electric Power Co’s rebound from the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan’s nuclear industry is still reeling from court orders halting two reactors earlier this year. Yoneyama’s election also means Japan will keep using record levels of carbon-emitting coal to produce electricity despite committing to cut emissions under the Paris climate change accord signed last year. This latest setback for nuclear power leaves Abe’s energy policy to boost nuclear usage while also raising the amount of renewable energy to meet emissions targets nearly in tatters. And, more than five years after Fukushima, the path to restarting Japan’s 40 idled nuclear plants seems no more clearer.
Reuters 17th Oct 2016 read more »