Japan Today

Kan calls for careful cutback on reliance on nuclear energy


Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday called for a long-term and careful effort to scale back the nation's reliance on nuclear power over the next four decades and make more use of solar energy and other renewable power sources.

Responding to concerns raised by Japan's March 11 tsunami, Kan called for investment in renewables, a re-examination of the national policy promoting the private development of nuclear power and a reworking of the control regional power companies have over their markets.

His broad-brush announcement calls for a "planned and gradual" reduction of nuclear dependence by 2050 and is an attempt to unify the government's stance on nuclear policy.

"We aim for a society that does not depend on nuclear power," Kan said. "It is very important for us to have a meaningful debate on this issue."

Kan has already said he intends to step down as soon as the country's recovery is on track, and his government is deeply divided over what approach it should take toward nuclear power.

Earlier this month, he said he would like to see his country completely phase out nuclear power in light of the crisis at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant. But he was opposed in that stance by members of his own cabinet and slammed by the opposition as irresponsible.

He later clarified that his remarks reflected only his "personal opinion."

The plan announced Friday has the basic support of his cabinet.

Resource-poor Japan has long pursued an aggressive nuclear power policy. Before the disaster it relied on nuclear for about a third of its electricity and was aiming to increase that share to about one-half by 2030.

Amid a public outcry over nuclear safety, Kan has led a rethinking of that policy.

Public opinion toward nuclear energy has been harsh since the earthquake and tsunami touched off fires, explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima facility. Some 80,000 residents near the plant were evacuated, and a 20-kilometer ring around it remains off-limits.

Powerful segments of government and industry, however, argue that nuclear is necessary for Japan's economy, that it is relatively safe and clean despite the recent dissater and that alternative energy sources are too expensive to make up the difference.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs the plant, says although the worst of the crisis has subsided, it will likely take years to conduct the cleanup and repairs. The Fukushima Daiichi reactors will not be operational again.

Currently, 35 of Japan's 54 reactors are idle, causing electricity shortages amid sweltering heat. The government has ordered safety checks on all reactors after the disaster - the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

With the loss of the Fukushima plant, which used to supply power to Tokyo areas, companies, factories and shopping malls are making government-ordered cutbacks in the amount of energy they use.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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I really do not understand why Kan does not get more approval ratings. It seems to me that he is taking a very bold and VERY important stand on an issue as someone in his position is expected to do. He gets 70% support on this idea, but only 17% overall? What on earth is there making people not like him? Was Koizumi that much better, or did he just have better hair?

sillygirl: There may have been lax safety, but a nuclear power plant is a mission critical facility, and mission critical facilites are supposed to have multple safe-guards to protect against human error. When these are designed, the designers use the "worst case" scenarion and design to overcompensate for this... First there was a design flaw, then there was an operational flaw. As long as potential disasters can be as bad as this, we should not support this industry.

5 ( +5 / -1 )

@ItsMe I guess that the Japanese people are buying into the oppositions attempts to make him make weak and indecisive in the quake and disaster aftermath. Personally I say it's to early to tell how well he has actually handled this. I guess history will tell. But It seems to me that the bureaucrats were working against him every step of the way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

nuclear energy is not a monster. LAX SAFETY is the MONSTER and japan has been about as lax as a country can ger.

1 ( +3 / -3 )

and this is why atomic energy will never be gone in japan: "angry protests from business groups and pro-nuclear politicians in the opposition and his own party." these wealthy groups are the biggest financial support for the politicians, so I dont see any changes happening in the future.

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Technology is almost never a 'MONSTER', The problem with Nuclear Technology is that it puts such an enormous amount of power and risk in the hands of man. And in my opinion man has not shown capability of safely controlling this power. Each time in history there has been an accident somewhere in the world, the Nuclear Industry says; "It was because that specific operator did not operate correctly, we will learn from their mistakes" or "The design of the plant was old and flawed, we will update our plants to prevent this from happening again" etc etc etc.... Yet nuclear accidents and incidents keep happening, not only in Japan but all over the world.

It makes you think, doesn't it? (Or at least it should... )

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"angry protests from business groups and pro-nuclear politicians in the opposition and his own party."

Shouldn't the future be decided by the people? Why do these moronic, corrupt and stubborn old timers get to choose what is best for the country and society.

Why don't they hold a National referendum and let the people decide.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, he's definitely done -- the electric companies support the political parties WAY too much, and the LDP and even other DPJ are frothing at the mouth to get plants going again and even build more. Once Kan goes, so does the idea of reducing reliance on nuclear power.

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What SquidBert said.

I would like to add that Kan has shown that he is willing to go against the interests of Japan Inc. and their LDP partners. They have given up trying to work with him and are now working the media to damage the image of the DPJ (including swaying members of Kan's own party) in an effort to position themselves for the next election. Kan is unable to pass any needed legislation due to the minority government position of the DPJ unless it is reworked to the whims of the opposition party alliance. By stonewalling anything they don't find agreeable the opposition can use this point to Kan's "incompetency" in being unable to get anything done all the while offering no specific solutions for the nuclear crisis other than Kan's immediate resignation. Kan is being blamed for the nuclear crisis when the legislation/corruption/cronyism surrounding nuclear infrastructure in Japan was carried out by the LDP for decades yet all the majority of Japanese see is reports of incompetence of the highest level in mainstream media. It is a wonder he has lasted this long with other prime ministers not having had to deal with something of the scale of the nuclear crisis in addition to all of the remaining economic and social problems that exists and quitting early. Granted he has probably had to make great concessions with the opposition and corporate interests in order to last as long as he has.

Incidentally, fringe parties like Minna No To have offered specific solutions like repossessing TEPCO as a public company for the double purpose of selling off its assets and using the funds to pay for restoration/compensation as well as transitioning Japan away from nuclear power (which I would love to see but likely won't).

And let's not all forget this related story on JT:


0 ( +1 / -1 )

The LDP, Ozawa's faction and that little poodle Hatoyama didn't figure on THIS when they went against Kan - They have created a PM who has nothing to lose. I love it! Kan is making waves and shaking up cozy ties with these kinds of proposals and ideas. We have already discovered why the LDP was so keen to oust him in the middle of a crisis - over 70% of their personal donations come from the power company executives, with Tepco contributing the most. Then there's all that reconstruction graft going begging. My family actually became worse off under the DPJ but it's worth it if Kan can somehow instill a sense in the Japanese people that change is possible. Long shot I know, but worth a try. Nothing to lose anymore. Personally, I'm not anti-nuclear power per se, but since these operators clearly can't be trusted with safety, Go Kan!

0 ( +0 / -1 )

Why does important stuff like this always get proposed in the middle of summer when everybody's away?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And then the man on the mountain said, "And we will create a tax to be used to reduce your nuclear burden" and all present bowed in utter awe and resolute silence.

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thats supposed to be attempts to make him look weak and ....

I really have to start reading my comments before hitting that submit button.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Shouldn't the future be decided by the people? Why do these moronic, corrupt and stubborn old timers get to choose what is best for the country and society.

The Japanese people do decide - by continuing to vote for "these moronic, corrupt and stubborn old timers". Don't forget it was the Japanese people who made it impossible for the DPJ to achieve anything by voting against them last summer. They complain endlessly about the government, but they still vote for these idiots.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

He gets 70% support on this idea, but only 17% overall? What on earth is there making people not like him?

A lot of money at stake here. Perhaps only the "right" people are being polled?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gotta love Kan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gotta love the fake polling numbers to bolster unsubstantiated claims of disapproval. This is how Japanese are controlled by media to not question media. Far more likely this really means that Kan is very popular outside of these lobby groups or paid off politicians and should stay on.

Keep going Kan, you have them sweating now. With him gone there is no reason to believe that Japan will ever be nuclear free.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

...And I think Kan knows this or else he wouldn't be sticking it to them for so long

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kan reminds me of the lead in the movie Climber's High by Masato Harada , fighting the powers that be in spite of just trying to do something good. Check and double check. Well, the facts are in, and nuclear is for losers. Given the 70% sold off rate of LDP alone to the power companies, not a wit will let that happen.

For Japan to really reduce this dependency it needs Kan to continue. That the media have also been sold out to this agenda isn't really a shock to anyone, is it?

The business interest isn't the public interest. No, Japan needs Kan. As much as the polly's are yelling, Japan needs Kan now more than ever.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

One last thought. Can Kan call an election, to hold the Diet accountable for the disaster, and ask the public to give him the power to rid the country of nuclear and those who sold them out to the power companies? It would be a compelling issue. Might finally hold LDP accountable for Japan's worst disaster.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Nuclear power creates electricity for a comfortable lifestyle now while leaving highly toxic waste to future generations. Let's live it up now and leave the burden to our (deformed cancer ridden) children and grandchildren. It is the height of selfishness. More news today about rigged public meetings with planted questions. Kan has a good idea but it will be dead 3 seconds after he resigns.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I thought we sent the waste to other poorer countries or remote parts of the world to dump our trash. Not our poroblem anymore

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Won't happen.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Shouldn't the future be decided by the people? Why do these moronic, corrupt and stubborn old timers get to choose what is best for the country and society

tokyokawasaki -- this was a rhetorical question, right? This is Japan, where the population has a long history of being led into disaster by "moronic, corrupt and stubborn old timers". Having others make decisions for them, and tellin them only what they need to know is a core principal here. Lovingly referred to as "Wa". Good luck with the next 40-odd years Japan as nukes are "planned and gradually" reduced.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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