Japan should scrap nuclear reactors after Fukushima, says new environment minister

Shinjiro Koizumi says: ‘We will be doomed if we allow another accident to occur’


 Newly appointed Japanese environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi has called for nuclear reactors to be scrapped rather than restarted after Fukushima. Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Japan’s new environment minister has called for the country’s nuclear reactors to be scrapped to prevent a repeat of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Shinjiro Koizumi’s comments, made hours after he became Japan’s third-youngest cabinet minister since the war, could set him on a collision course with Japan’s pro-nuclear prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” Koizumi, 38, said. “We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur. We never know when we’ll have an earthquake.”

Koizumi faced an immediate challenge from the new trade and industry minister, who said that ridding Japan of nuclear power was “unrealistic”.

“There are risks and fears about nuclear power,” Isshu Sugawara told reporters. “But ‘zero-nukes’ is, at the moment and in the future, not realistic.”

Japan’s government wants nuclear power to comprise 20% to 22% of the overall energy mix by 2030, drawing criticism from campaigners who say nuclear plants will always pose a danger given the country’s vulnerability to large earthquakes and tsunamis.

All of Japan’s 54 reactors were shut down after a giant tsunami caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Nuclear power accounted for about 30% of Japan’s energy production before the disaster. Today, just nine reactors are back in operation, having passed stringent safety checks introduced after the Fukushima meltdown.

But the government is unlikely to meet its target of 30 reactor restarts by 2030 amid strong local opposition and legal challenges. MORE

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Nuclear sunset overtakes fading dreams

As atomic energy gets ever more difficult to afford and renewables become steadily cheaper, a nuclear sunset awaits plans for new plants.


Photo: Thomas Millot @tomlaudiophile nuclear cooling tower

LONDON, 21 January, 2019 − Once hailed as a key part of the energy future of the United Kingdom and several other countries, the high-tech atomic industry is now heading in the opposite direction, towards nuclear sunset.

It took another body blow last week when plans to build four new reactors on two sites in the UK were abandoned as too costly by the Japanese company Hitachi. This was even though it had already sunk £2.14 billion (300 bn yen) in the scheme.

Following the decision in November by another Japanese giant, Toshiba, to abandon an equally ambitious scheme to build three reactors at Moorside in the north-west of England, the future of the industry in the UK looks bleak.

The latest withdrawal means the end of the Japanese dream of keeping its nuclear industry alive by exporting its technology overseas. With the domestic market killed by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, overseas sales were to have been its salvation. MORE