Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Japan Earth Government Power Politics

Japan Aims To Abandon Nuclear Power By 2030s 214

mdsolar writes "Reuters reports that the Japanese government said it 'intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s, marking a major shift from policy goals set before last year's Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply. Japan joins countries such as Germany and Switzerland in turning away from nuclear power ... Japan was the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster. In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year, had faced intense lobbying from industries to maintain atomic energy and also concerns from its major ally, the United States, which supplied it with nuclear technology in the 1950s.' Meanwhile, the U.S. nuclear renaissance appears to be unraveling."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Japan Aims To Abandon Nuclear Power By 2030s

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Erection? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @09:49AM (#41334125)

    Are elections in Japan held on a need-only basis?

    Not need-*only*, but when needed, yes. Like any parliamentary system, election are held if the government suffers a vote of no confidence. There's also a set term, at the end of which elections are held regardless, but they can happen early. in Japan, the term for the lower house is four years, but this wouldn't be the first time in recent history that an early election was called; the 2003 lower house went back to the polls in 2005.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @09:53AM (#41334183)

    In fact, it could be more than 20 prime ministers until that time.

    The big question is, whether Japan is even capable of doing anything like this at all. They have been unable to implement internationally widespread safety measures that the contructors of the very reactors recommended, that have been destroyed in the accident. And that would have been cheap, less than $10bn for all 50 reactors, yet the Japanese didn't. And this isn't a singular experience.

    Japan has stagnated economically for the last 25 years. Last year, the global shortage of harddisks wasn't down to the tsunami in Japan, but a flood in Thailand of all places. (Which intends to build at least 5 nuclear reactors, btw.) Currently, Japan is paying on the order of $30bn on imports per year to very imperfectly compensate for the lack of nuclear power - "volontary" blackouts and shutdown are continuing as power saving measures during the summer. And unlike other expenditures, Japan can't pay for this with domestic debt, because they actually have to pay a foreign country in foreign currency - which is unsustainable in the long run without a source of income, which hasn't been forthcoming in Japan for the last quarter of a century. And as Steins Law says, this will stop.

    Renewable energy is expensive and no country has as yet installed anything in the way of the infrastructure require to use them on more than a small scale. So far, only the low-hanging fruits have been picked that stress the existing infrastructure to its limit. And Japan, being an island with two separate power systems, is in an even worse position than just about any other country imaginable.

    The question for anyone outside Japan isn't just whether Japan will be capable of pulling it off. The question isn't just if one of the regularly resigning Prime Ministers of Japan turns his or her back to this policy and makes it null and void. The actual question is whether, by 2040, Japan is still going to matter.

  • nuclear is safe (Score:4, Informative)

    by ssam ( 2723487 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:12AM (#41334385)

    Nuclear power has an very low deaths per kWh, even when you include chernobyl, 3mile island and fukushima ( [] ). chernobyl is a terrible design (as the coolant boils, the reaction goes faster. fail), nothing like that could happen in any modern (by which i mean anything made in last few decades).

    Switching to any other form of power generation will cost lives.

    From a environmental point of view, suppose japan can build enough wind and solar to replace nuclear (big job on the scale of a war effort), if they did that along side nuclear they would be reducing carbon emissions. if you do it instead of nuclear then you are standing still. Now take a look at this [] and have a read of IPCC, and explain how we are going to not hit 400 ppm.

  • Re:Global Warming (Score:5, Informative)

    by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:35AM (#41334619)

    The real solution are LFTR reactors.

    No more enrichment, ever.
    Cheap fuel (currently is a waste product of mining)
    No more 100+ Atmosphere pressure vessels to burst
    No more backup generators needed
    Accidental meltdowns are impossible
    Turn reactor on/off in hours/minutes not months
    Unable to weaponize any part of fuel or waste.
    Needs Uranium only to start the reactor
    Creates leukemia fighting medical isotopes from waste
    Creates isotopes for space-grade batteries for NASA from waste
    Very little waste is left-over and it's radioactive for about 300 years.
    Prototype was run for 5 years+ in the 70s.
    Both China and India are working on it (and THEY will get the patents)

    -Regulations set by existing Nuke industry.
    -"Nuclear is bad" mentality of public and politicians.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:48AM (#41334793) Homepage

    Biofuel production in Japan? You are kidding, right?

    What little of Japan that can be farmed is needed desperately for food and still they import food. They "invented" the idea of Kobe beef because while they have cattle they really don't have room for grazing. Kobe beef is where they pamper the steer in a stall and fatten it up on beer rather than letting it graze. Sort of like veal in the US but veal is done with milk instead of beer. You don't invent stuff like this without a compelling need, and their compelling need is no space for grazing.

    Not sure what drove the invention of veal.

    Biofuel production may be something that we want to rethink anyway, considering the effects on food prices currently. If higher food prices lead to more overthrown governments, we might want to back off of that. Or get instructed by a group of nations whose governments really like the idea of stability.

  • Re:Global Warming (Score:5, Informative)

    by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:56AM (#41334883) Homepage

    Your idea of problems with nuclear power are interesting.

    Three Mile Island really affected nobody - not even plant workers. It is somewhat of a blot on the history of nuclear power, but there are plenty of those anyway.

    Chernobyl was caused by a stupid test that was mismanaged - sort of a stupid on top of a stupid. There has certainly been some health considerations for a few thousand people and it is likely the most widespread effect of nuclear power, ever. And it would be nice if it stayed that way. But, there is no accounting for stupid.

    Fukushima could have been forseen, but the environmental conditions were a bit extreme. Part of the problem is and continues to be spent fuel storage. We should be reprocessing this but because the fuel rods contain plutonium this is viewed as a way to make bombs and strictly forbidden right now. So we are all waiting around for either a reprocessing plant or two to be built - since the 1950s - or for there to be constructed a disposal site - since the 1960s at least.

    Probably 90% of the problems with nuclear power could be solved by having a small number of reprocessing plants for spent fuel rods built. Understand that the fuel rods have been only around 5% "spent" and could be reprocessed into new fuel rods with the 95% of the active materials still present in them. The "no reprocessing" philosophy is like having a car that spews 95% of the gasoline out the tailpipe unburned and leaving this situation for 50 years.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:17PM (#41335831)

    The nuclide release wasn't neglible, it wasn't acceptable in any way whatsoever and I have yet to see anyone in authority say so. That's nonsense. Period.

    It is true, it was much smaller than that of Chernobyl, especially considering that 3 reactors were involved. But it was still so large, that the evacuation of the population was definitely necessary - though on a smaller area and for a shorter time. It also not in all places that were evacuated (especially in the south) and not in the way it was done, especially the hasty evacuation of hospitals that cost hundreds of lives.

    So stop belittling it.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:23PM (#41337775)

    I don't trust the media either - but this is just the wrong part to distrust, because it is true.

    It's not true that the areas will be uninhabitable for centuries or millenia or millions of years as some people think. The worst affected areas are expected to fall below 20mSv/year by 2016. That's not exactly a low figure, some people will freak out about it and the Japanese government won't allow people to stay in such areas over night, but it's in line with natural radiation in some places like Denver - without them suffering any health consequencess.

    What gets lost with many people is that Cs-137 only contributes to half the radiation of Cs. The other half is Cs-134 which has a half-life of just 2 years, which means that radiation drops quickly in the first years. In Chernobyl, they just reduced the maximum allowed life-time radiation dose from 400mSv initially (a bit less than the average in Cornwall) to 250mSv to 150mSv. Recently, they stopped doing that and plan to simply open up a lot of areas formerly treated as off-limits dead-mans-land.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.