Japan should revive its nuclear industry, says new report

December 8, 2020, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center has issued a report, Japan’s Nuclear Reactor Fleet: The Geopolitical and Climate Implications of Accelerated Decommissioning, contending that Japan’s reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident has led to an increased dependence on carbon-emitting energy sources that ultimately undermine the country’s recently announced climate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Recommendations: Released just a few months prior to the 10-year anniversary of the accident on March 11, 2011, the report recommends that Japan:

  • Use its existing nuclear fleet in the near and long term to 2050,
  • remain involved in global civil nuclear trade,
  • develop a role for advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, which it should deploy as soon as feasible,
  • rebuild its nuclear energy workforce and public trust in nuclear power, and
  • regain its leadership position in the climate battle.

Regaining leadership: On that last point, the report states that Japan can regain leadership by accelerating the adoption of advanced nuclear power and expanding its renewable energy production, especially wind and geothermal, in the short term and marine energy in the longer term. It adds, "Nuclear power should complement and work with growing renewable energy to enable a retreat from fossil fuels, especially coal.”

Written by: The 25-page report was authored by Phyllis Genther Yoshida, a senior fellow at the center and an expert on Japanese and international science, technology, and energy issues. She was formerly the senior fellow for energy and technology at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and deputy assistant secretary for Asia, Europe, and the Americas at the U.S. Department of Energy.

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