Japan has restarted five nuclear power plants and is likely to restart several more, with the Japanese government determining that the high economic costs of abandoning nuclear power are not justified by any asserted environmental or human health threats.
The March 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 people and damaged the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power facility. No people were killed or made seriously ill by the low-level radiation released after damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactors, but anti-nuclear activists convinced the Japanese government that the incident justified closing all of the nation’s nuclear power plants. In 2010, the year before the earthquake and tsunami, nuclear power generated 30% of Japanese power. By 2014, Japan utilized no nuclear power.
Image courtesy of Wallpaper Wiki.
According to the International Energy Agency, “One consequence of the accident was a gradual shutdown of all nuclear power plants, which has led to a significant rise in fossil fuels use, increased fuel imports and rising carbon dioxide emissions. It has also brought electricity prices to unsustainable levels.” (Hat tip to Ken Silverstein of Forbes.com for pointing this out.)
“The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says that if the country is to meet its obligations under the Paris climate accord, then nuclear energy needs to make up between 20-22% of the nation’s portfolio mix,” Silverstein observes.
Acknowledging this, Japan is restarting its nuclear power facilities. Silverstein reports that a majority of Japan’s nuclear reactors are on track to resume producing power by 2030.