This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. On the surface, Japan seems to have learned a tough lesson and made a number of changes to its energy policy. But unresolved issues still haunt the country’s future nuclear prospects. The share of electricity supplied by nuclear energy dropped radically from 25 per cent in 2010 to only 6 per cent in 2020. At the time of the disaster, 54 reactors were operating. Since then, only nine reactors restarted and 24 are scheduled for decommissioning. Public opinion has changed dramatically. Before the accident, 87 per cent of the public supported nuclear power as necessary, but by 2013 the figure dropped to 24.9 per cent. Today, only 12.3 per cent are in favour of nuclear power and 60.6 per cent think that nuclear power should be either phased out or shutdown immediately. Yet the government and nuclear industry have hardly changed attitudes towards nuclear power. The latest Strategic Energy Plan published in 2018 states that, while Japan should reduce its dependence on nuclear power ‘as much as possible’, it should maintain nuclear power as a baseload electricity source. And Japan is still aiming for a nuclear power share of 20–22 per cent by 2030 — an unrealistic goal given the difficulties faced in restarting existing plants.
East Asia Forum 7th March 2021 read more »
Beside the ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, more than 1,000 huge metal tanks loom in silent testament to one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, the meltdown of three nuclear reactors 10 years ago this month. The tanks contain nearly 1.25 million tons of cooling water from the 2011 disaster and groundwater seepage over the years — equivalent to around 500 Olympic-size swimming pools — most of it still dangerously radioactive. Running out of space to build more tanks, the government wants to gradually release the water into the sea — after it has been decontaminated and diluted — over the next three decades or more. Even though a formal decision has yet to be announced, the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have insisted that an ocean release is their preferred solution and that it is perfectly safe. The only thing holding them back appears to be the Olympics and the bad publicity it could generate before the Games begin in July, experts say. The idea of releasing the water has infuriated Fukushima’s fishing community, only now getting back on its feet after taking a battering in the wake of the 2011 disaster and the subsequent ocean contamination. Also angry is South Korea, even though it is more than 600 miles away across the sea.
Washington Post 6th March 2021 read more »
Ten years have passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent disaster at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This article outlines the current situation of the people impacted by this unprecedented nuclear disaster, the prospects (or lack thereof) for the decommissioning of the plant that caused the disaster, and the possibility of using this experience as an opportunity to phase out nuclear power in Japan.
Peace Boat 7th March 2021 read more »
The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has vowed to responsibly scrap the crippled reactors and revitalize the economies of its host communities ahead of the 10th anniversary of the accident. In a recent online interview with Kyodo News, Tomoaki Kobayakawa said the utility is “making all-out efforts” in the decommissioning work and to achieve economic revitalization for the local communities. He also said radiation levels at the crisis-hit plant remain relatively stable.
Mainichi 8th March 2021 read more »