Japan Abandons Plans for Nuclear Power Expansion

Prime minister: move to renewable energy "necessary"

Feature story - May 11, 2011
As efforts continue to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, almost two months since the initial disaster, the Japanese Prime Minister has announced a move away from nuclear energy in favour of renewable energy.

Collecting Sea Water Samples

Crew from the Greenpeace ship, The Rainbow Warrior, collect sea water samples to monitor radiation contamination levels as the ship sails up the eastern coast of Japan, in the vicinity of Fukushima. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace

“Greenpeace applauds Prime Minister Kan’s ambitious proposal to scrap the construction of 14 new nuclear reactors,” said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director.

“This announcement could put Japan’s energy policy on a new path of clean, renewable technologies, what we need now is the will and commitment to see it through.”

“To ensure that the health and safety of the Japanese people is put first, and strong action on countering climate change is taken, the Japanese government must now phase out all existing nuclear plants and pursue Prime Minister Kan’s promise of a clean, renewable, and energy efficient future for Japan.”

Nuclear energy currently provides the country with 30% of its electricity, and an additional 14 reactors were planned to built by 2030. Now policy makers seem to realise that continuing down this path is too dangerous, renewable energy is the future. Currently renewable energies make up about 20% of Japan's energy supply.

"I think it is necessary to move in the direction of promoting natural energy and renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass," said Prime minister Naoto Kan.

He added: "I believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted nuclear energy as national policy. I apologise to the people for failing to prevent the nuclear accident."

This is the second bold move Kan has taken against nuclear energy. Just last week he ordered for Japan's "most dangerous" nuclear plant, the Hamaoka reactor, to be closed. The reactor is situtated in a region seismologists say has an 87% chance of an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or higher in the next 30 years.

Commenting on Japan's decision, Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, said: “Instead of waiting for disaster to strike, governments around the world should now follow Japan’s lead, and adopt energy policies based on clean and renewable energy sources”.