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The future shape of Japan’s energy policy

2 1 0
12.07.2018

HIKONE, SHIGA PREF. – Japan’s energy policy now stands at the most crucial crossroads since the end of World War II. The government’s fifth Basic Energy Plan declares that Japan will strive to achieve the composition of electric power sources by 2030 stipulated by the fourth basic plan and will prepare the grounds for making renewable energy sources a principal source of power supply.

Although it is not clear what is meant by a principal power source, the latest energy plan reaffirms that renewable energy will account for 22 to 24 percent of the nation’s total electricity generation.

The plan stresses three fundamental points that must be kept in mind in choosing energy sources: (1) the experiences of the 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and introspection on and lessons from it must never be forgotten; (2) self-sufficiency has consistently been the guiding principle for postwar Japan in selecting energy sources; and (3) Japan must follow the global trend toward decarbonization pursuant to the Paris agreement on climate change.

All of Japan’s nuclear power plants were shut down from September 2013 to August 2015 in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Although this led electricity rates to rise somewhat, there was not a single case of a large-scale blackout during that period. There was little to no inconvenience or discomfort in people’s daily lives and there were no visible signs that the power shortage caused a serious impediment to industrial growth.

In short, an unintended social experiment served to prove the feasibility of reducing the nation’s reliance on nuclear power to zero. Having learned this, the energy plan’s target of having nuclear power........

© The Japan Times