PM Kan wants to wean Japan from nuclear power

Updated: 2011-07-13 20:09


Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Wednesday the Fukushima nuclear crisis had convinced him that Japan should wean itself from nuclear power and eventually have no atomic plants.

The radiation crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima plant, triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, has sparked debate about the role of nuclear power in quake-prone, resource-poor Japan, as well as concerns about power shortages with 35 of the nation's 54 reactors now halted.  

PM Kan wants to wean Japan from nuclear power
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan attends a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo July 13, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

"Given the enormity of the risks associated with nuclear power generation, I have realised nuclear technology is not something that can be managed by conventional safety measures alone," Kan told a news conference. "I believe we should aim for a society that is not dependent on nuclear power generation."

The Fukushima plant is still leaking radiation four months on, although Kan said workers were on track to achieve a target of stable cooling of the reactors by mid-July and that the government hoped to move forward its deadline of putting the crippled reactors into cold shutdown by January.

Kan said it was premature to set a time frame for achieving the goal of a nuclear power-free society but said it would be a gradual process.

The unpopular prime minister has become increasingly sensitive to public concern about nuclear power, but whether he oversees an overhaul of energy policy is in doubt since he has promised to resign, although he has not said when.

Kan also said Japan would be able to avoid summer and winter power shortages through energy conservation efforts and companies' in-house power supplies, despite the large number of reactors now off-line for inspections or other work.

He said the government would take steps to alleviate the impact on consumers and businesses from the short-term loss of nuclear power due to idled reactors, but gave no details.

Risks of zero nuclear power

Nuclear energy accounted for about 30 percent of Japan's power supply before the March 11 disasters crippled Tokyo Electric's Fukushima plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of the capital. That ratio slipped to 18 percent in June.

Nuclear power advocates have warned that abandoning atomic energy would itself entail risks, although of a different kind.

"Phasing out nuclear power is not risk-free," said Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which advises the government on nuclear policy.

"Probably the immediate risk would be increased consumption of fossil fuels that would lead also to CO2 emissions increases and other air pollution," Suzuki told Reuters in an interview.  

Japan has set a target for 2020 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels.

   Previous Page 1 2 3 4 Next Page  


90th anniversary of the CPC

The Party has been leading the country and people to prosperity.

 The write stuff

'Pen capital' goes back to drawing board for answers to economic changes taking shape in Zhejiang

Say hello to hi panda

An unusual panda is the rising star in Europe's fashion circles

Mom’s the word
Big win