Tokyo Retreats From Its Nuclear Ambitions

By MITSURU OBE AND MARI IWATA  |  The Wall Street Journal  |  Link to article

TOKYO—Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan should start over in forming a long-term energy policy, dropping plans to get half its energy needs from nuclear power and instead turning to renewable sources.

“The existing energy-policy outline needs to be scrapped, and discussions should be started from scratch,” he said Tuesday at an evening briefing.

Mr. Kan said nuclear and fossil fuel were the pillars of Japan’s energy policy but now will add two others: renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass, and conservation. Japan has lagged behind other countries in curbing greenhouse gases, relying on nuclear power to achieve emission targets.

The government had set a goal to get 50% of Japan’s energy from nuclear sources by 2030, and planned to build at least 14 reactors. Currently, it gets about 29% of its electricity supply from nuclear power.

The policy change comes amid public concern about the safety of nuclear-power plants, in light of the crisis that began when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. Radiation contamination spread to surrounding areas and forced the evacuation of local residents.

Last week, the government demand a halt to operations at a nuclear facility run by Chubu Electric Power Co. Other nuclear plants across the nation also are facing public opposition.

“I believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted nuclear energy as national policy,” Mr. Kan said. (Full Article)