No Nuclear Human Banner on Venice LidoAerial view of a 1500 square meter 'No Nuclear!' banner created by activists with yellow parasols at Venice Lido in Italy. Greenpeace is protesting against the plans of the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to build a new nuclear power plant at the Upper Adria, next to the most popular Italian tourist beaches. As part of the protest Greenpeace hands over a petition to the Venetian governor Luca Zaia asking him to declare a “nuclear free Veneto zone”.07/28/2010 © Francesco Alesi / Greenpeace

Japan is free from nuclear power for the second time in 14 months, as the country’s last operating nuclear reactor closes for maintenance.

This is excellent news. The closure of Reactor 4 at the Kansai Electric Ohi nuclear power plant (following the shutdown of Reactor 3 earlier this month) offers the Japanese government the perfect opportunity to devote every resource to bringing the Fukushima crisis under control and leading the country to a sustainable future.

Stemming the torrent of highly radioactive water leaking from the destroyed Fukushima reactors and stabilizing the situation, along with phasing out Japan’s nuclear power infrastructure, should be Prime Minister Abe’s first and only priorities.

He should immediately abandon his plans to restart Japan’s 50 shutdown reactors and stop his sales trips to sell discredited nuclear technology overseas.

The message is loud and clear: Japan does not need nuclear power.

Western Japan has just recorded its hottest summer on record and yet, despite having just two nuclear reactors in operation until this month, experienced no power blackouts - just like last summer when the country had no reactors online.

Clean and sustainable energy is the only way to protect us all from the risks of nuclear power. People in Japan and industry there have already begun its shift to renewables. Since April of last year, 3.36 GW of renewable energy generation equipment was installed across the country. The country could quickly become a global leader in wind, solar and geothermal technologies.

It has an immense coastline, offering huge opportunities for offshore wind power. The amount of solar radiation that Japan receives from the sun offers the potential for high productivity of solar PV. It also has a unique resource in geothermal energy, which can produce electricity and heat.

Sadly, Japan has neglected these opportunities to develop these natural resources because nuclear lobby groups have pushed their technology and the current government has been fixated on restarting reactors rather than developing a clean energy future. History will judge the nuclear industry and its backers harshly.

Nuclear power has been and always will be a roadblock to a cleaner, safer and sustainable future. Greenpeace has provided a roadmap to this future. This roadmap shows that if Japan had adopted a strong strategy last year, it could have doubled renewables to 20.3% by 2015 and increased the renewable supply to 43% by 2020. All it would take is for the Japanese government to remove barriers.

The nightmare of Fukushima continues to worsen. We now hear from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies (IFRC) that evacuation from the Fukushima disaster has now killed 1,600 people in Fukushima Prefecture which is more than the number who were killed in that area by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami combined. The 160,000 people who have lost their homes continue to face an uncertain future. 

The Fukushima reactors continue to leak highly dangerous contamination despite Prime Minister Abe’s claims that the situation is “under control”. Instead of false claims and empty promises, Mr. Abe and his government could seal a true place in history and pay tribute to the victims of Fukushima:

End nuclear power in Japan today.

(Image © 07/28/2010 Francesco Alesi / Greenpeace)