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Page added on October 5, 2013

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The End Of Nuclear Energy In Japan?

Alternative Energy

“I’m calling for zero nuclear power,” said Junichiro Koizumi, the hugely popular former prime minister of Japan, on Tuesday at a lecture in Nagoya.

He’d served from 2001 to 2006. In 2005, he’d led the Liberal Democratic Party to win an extraordinarily large parliamentary majority. Then he groomed Shinzo Abe to become his successor. By September 2006, Abe was PM – only to get kicked out a year later. Now that Abe is PM again and is trying to restore the scandal-plagued nuclear industry to its former glory, Koizumi’s words ripped into his policies at the perfect moment.

Though retired from politics since 2009, Koizumi remains influential. He was pro-nuclear throughout his career. But on Tuesday, he said that the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and the subsequent nuclear fiasco in Fukushima should be used as an opportunity to build a resource-recycling society. And he called on his former protégé to abandon nuclear power.

It wasn’t the first time he’d slammed into Japan’s formerly sacred and omnipotent, but now hated industry. In a speech two month after the nuclear fiasco, he called for weaning the country off its dependence on nuclear power, the Asahi Shimbun reported. During the election last December, when he was speaking in support of an LDP candidate, he called for reducing the number of nuclear powerplants “to zero as much as possible.”

And on August 26, his words made it into the Mainichi Shimbun. If he were an active politician, he’d want “to convince lawmakers to move in the direction of zero nuclear plants,” he said. Now would be the ideal time to move that direction. All 50 nuclear reactors were off line. All opposition parties favored zero nuclear power. It could be done “as long as the prime minister made the decision” – putting the onus squarely on his former protégé. And nuclear politics in Japan haven’t been the same since.

The next blast came on September 24 at a forum in Tokyo. He talked about his trip to Finland in August. The purpose was to inspect the Onkalo spent-fuel repository. He was accompanied by engineers from the Japanese nuclear industry. They all went to look at this marvel, 400 meters underground. It was designed to hold and seal highly radioactive waste long enough for it to become harmless, namely 100,000 years.

“One cannot fathom a time of 100,000 years in the future,” he said.

It’s unknown if the facility can survive this long. How do you inform people this far in the future of the dangers that lurk beneath? And he wondered if such a facility, imperfect as it was, could ever be built in Japan, given the shifting ground and constant earthquakes. That lack of final repository was “the first reason,” he said, why Japan should have zero nuclear plants.

“Some people may say it is irresponsible to call for zero nuclear plants,” he said, “but I think it is even more irresponsible not to have a disposal site for the waste or even any prospect of constructing such a facility.”

He now doubted the claims by experts in the industry that nuclear energy was “safe, clean, and inexpensive” and wondered “if human beings can really control nuclear energy” [read… Fukushima: A Mistake Now Could Release 14,000 Times More Radiation than Hiroshima].

“The Japanese have never knuckled under to natural disasters but have always overcome them to further develop the nation,” he said. “We are now at a major turning point for creating a recyclable society through energy sources based on natural resources. Opportunity lies in a pinch. That is how we should be looking at the situation.”

But Koizumi hadn’t turned against his former protégé, a “source close to the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office” whispered to the Asahi Shimbun. Instead, his attacks on Abe’s pro-nuclear policies were efforts to protect Abe by nudging him on a track that would be politically successful, in a country with immense local opposition to nuclear power. Koizumi “does, after all, have an outstanding sense for how the political world operates,” the source said.

Koizumi remains influential. His son, Shinjiro Koizumi, is a member of the Lower House. And now the Abe administration, according to the source, is trying to figure out if Koizumi’s zero-nuclear position is becoming a broader movement within the LDP.

“The message Koizumi is sending is that moving too strongly in that direction could hurt the administration, even though it may have high support ratings now,” a source in the LDP told the paper. “The comments by Koizumi can also serve as a coastal levee of sorts for Abe who faces pressure from lawmakers with close ties to the electric power industry. I believe Abe understands what is happening.”

Koizumi has an accomplice: Abe’s wife. She has been whispering into her husband’s ear at night – and making anti-nuclear speeches during the day [read… Akie Abe, His “Anti-Nuclear” Wife].

So Abe responded. In September, he stunned reporters when he said that the country would “lower the ratio of nuclear energy” over the next three years and “make every effort to accelerate the spread of renewable energy sources and promote energy conservation.” For some, it was a sea change.

On Tuesday in Nagoya, Koizumi laid out his case. “If the government and LDP now came out with a policy of zero nuclear plants, the nation could come together in the creation of a recyclable society unseen in the world,” he said. Tremors went through the nuclear industry and the bureaucrats that aid and abet it.

It wasn’t about morals or the environment, but about economics. Nuclear plants were expensive to build, though their operational costs were relatively low. But then there were the costs of decommissioning the plants, which he said, would take “40 to 50 years,” the costs and issues associated with storing the nuclear waste in sealed-off facilities for 100,000 years, and the enormous costs and consequence of a nuclear accident. Simply put: “nuclear energy is the most expensive form of power generation,” he said.

Catastrophic nuclear accidents, like Chernobyl or Fukushima, are very rare, we’re told incessantly. But when they occur, they’re costly. So costly that the French government, when it came up with estimates, kept them secret. But the report was leaked: an accident at a single reactor in a thinly populated part of France could cost over three times France’s GDP. Read…. Potential Cost Of A Nuclear Accident? So High It’s A Secret!

Zerohedge



17 Comments on "The End Of Nuclear Energy In Japan?"

  1. LT on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 1:50 pm 

    Nuclear energy: Short gain in energy but permanent lose in territory.

  2. BillT on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 1:52 pm 

    This is the nail in the nuclear coffin and the makers of these death traps know it. Time to decommission ALL of them and cask the 300,000 tons of spent fuel laying around the world.

  3. Kenz300 on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 3:07 pm 

    Quote — ” there were the costs of decommissioning the plants, which he said, would take “40 to 50 years,” the costs and issues associated with storing the nuclear waste in sealed-off facilities for 100,000 years, and the enormous costs and consequence of a nuclear accident. Simply put: “nuclear energy is the most expensive form of power generation,”

    ———————

    Nuclear energy is too costly and too dangerous.

    There are safer, cleaner and cheaper ways to boil water for electricity..

    Wind, solar, wave energy, geothermal and second generation biofuels made from algae, cellulose and waste are the future.

  4. GregT on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 3:42 pm 

    If there is going to be a future for mankind on the planet Earth, we need to stop adding more greenhouse gasses into the environment.

    Wind, solar, wave energy, geothermal, and second generation biofuels made from algae, cellulose and waste, all contribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses.

    We need to completely rethink our relationship with our host planet. Continuing to pursue the very technologies that got us into this mess to begin with, is not only foolish, it is irresponsible and immoral. We need to stop thinking only of ourselves, and start thinking about all future life on the planet Earth.

  5. bobinget on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 3:56 pm 

    “There are safer, cleaner and cheaper ways to boil water for electricity..”

    We should also consider ‘boiling water’ may not be the only ‘way’.

    This love/hate relationship we have with a 20th century technology, nuclear power, burning fossil fuels, to run turbines, transmitting electricity hundreds even thousands of miles will change, like it or not. As resources become scarce humans will adapt to local
    power generation. Indeed, world wide, this change is already happening. From ubiquitous diesel generators
    in Iraq to a million PV roof-top goals in California.

    No water was changed to steam posting here.

  6. LT on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 4:15 pm 

    It costs each of us about $10 of food a day, if we cook our own meals. But we have to work hard to earn roughly $100 a day to cover for rent/mortgage, home insurance, car & car insurance, health-care, utility bills, etc…This is the modern way of life. And we have become biological robots. Not much time left for self reflection.

    Are we freer than birds, insects, and other animals.

    Are we born to go after big house, big cars, fat account, brand names, etc. and then claim ‘we are smart’?

    Is this world the only realm of existence?

  7. LT on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 4:15 pm 

    It costs each of us about $10 of food a day, if we cook our own meals. But we have to work hard to earn roughly $100 a day to cover for rent/mortgage, home insurance, car & car insurance, health-care, utility bills, etc…This is the modern way of life. And we have become biological robots. Not much time left for self reflection.

    Are we freer than birds, insects, and other animals.

    Are we born to go after big house, big cars, fat account, brand names, etc. and then claim ‘we are smart’?

    Is this world the only realm of existence?

  8. bobinget on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 4:32 pm 

    When I was a kid in the fifties, nuclear power was just coming on line. Power company advertising promised
    almost FREE electricity. “Too Cheap to Meter” .
    Subtile huh? Buy and use all the ‘labor saving’ appliances to you hearts content.
    It would be fifty years before appliances had consumption comparisons.

    We were also promised jet packs.

    Where’s the complaint department?

    “You’re already here sucker”

  9. J-Gav on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 5:34 pm 

    A brave stance on Koizumi’s part because governments’ first priority is always going to be keeping the lights on. And nuclear does that to a significant extent in Japan and 75%-worth here in France (I was glad to see the reference to the dissimulating industrial liers’here at the end of the article).
    Beyond comfort,politics and strategic value though, I have to agree with BillT that we need to start decommissioning ALL of this shit, now! And with GregT that the only way to go about doing so is to drastically reduce our footprint (or should that be ‘hobnail bootprint’?) on the planet.

  10. LT on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 9:12 pm 

    France relies heavily on nuclear energy. And she has been lucky that no nuclear accident occurs so far. But if she keeps using it, it will. Just like a kitchen knife, we get cut once in a while even though we are very careful with it.

  11. J-Gav on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 9:26 pm 

    LT- Correct, France is still in a pretending phase. President Hollande has run up against major opposition simply on his proposal to decommission one of the oldest nuke plants in the country in Alsace. Unfortunately, it may take an ‘incident’ of greater magnitude than those which have already occurred here (largely covered up radioactive leaks, etc) before such a program moves forward. As in Japan, their leak measurement protocols and evacuation procedures in case of trouble are a farce, but you won’t see that in the MSM.

  12. DC on Sat, 5th Oct 2013 10:07 pm 

    There are enough NPP in France alone to render ALL of Europe uninhabitable, along with most of western Russia, the UK, Ireland And problem a good portion of North Africa as well, should the French ever lose control of them.

    France is having no luck whatsoever with its futile attempts to sweep its nuclear trash under the rug

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100810/full/466804a.html

    Hopelessly underfunded by orders of magnitude and even if it were funded properly, the task would still be a hopless one.

  13. LT on Sun, 6th Oct 2013 12:12 am 

    It looks like the fate of Europe is sealed by those NPP unless they’re all shut down properly and in a timely manner.

    Just another 25-50 years, those NPP already age and will crack. The insulation of electrical wires/cables become brittle and crack after 30/40 years of usage. It will cause short-circuited and fire if not replaced.

  14. LT on Sun, 6th Oct 2013 12:12 am 

    It looks like the fate of Europe is sealed by those NPP unless they’re all shut down properly and in a timely manner.

    Just another 25-50 years, those NPP already age and will crack. The insulation of electrical wires/cables become brittle and crack after 30/40 years of usage. It will cause short-circuited and fire if not replaced.

  15. LT on Sun, 6th Oct 2013 12:14 am 

    I’m sorry! I didn’t double click, but somehow my computer/mouse made double click.

    Please help remove those extra comments of mine.

  16. BillT on Sun, 6th Oct 2013 3:09 am 

    LT, here in Manila, Philippines the average laborer makes $10 PER DAY. That is the minimum wage here. Of course, those who do not work at a company make much less, yet they survive, have families and enjoy life. The Ps use only 5% of the energy per capita as Americans use.

  17. Kenz300 on Sun, 6th Oct 2013 10:10 am 

    As they start to decommission the oldest nuclear power plants we will begin to see the true cost of nuclear energy.

    What will the cost be to store the nuclear waste FOREVER?

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