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Japan Power

Will Japan's New Government Restart the Nuclear Power Program? 177

An anonymous reader writes in with a story about speculation that Japan might restart its nuclear power program. "Japan's newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a strong supporter of atomic energy use in the past, should restart plants shut after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, said the CEO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd . The LDP, headed by Japan's next prime minister Shinzo Abe, won a landslide victory on Sunday, fueling speculation that the new coalition government would take a softer stance on nuclear power. Public opinion remains divided on the role of atomic energy after natural disasters last year triggered a radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant."
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Will Japan's New Government Restart the Nuclear Power Program?

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  • by drdread66 ( 1063396 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:35PM (#42316517)

    The thing that worries folks in Japan is not the suitability of the engineering or the technology in general. The problem is the Japanese culture of silence, cover-up and cronyism. When you're faced with something potentially as disastrous as a nuclear plant meltdown, you want to have reasonable assurance that the government is actually *regulating* the plant operators, not participating the in cover-ups and denials that problems exist.

    Nuclear power actually has a pretty good safety record, except when plant operators do something patently stupid (Chernobyl), criminally stupid (Fukushima), or just plain make a mistake (Three Mile Island). So what you really want is to know that the government is looking out for the public's best interests, and not allowing plant operators to do stupid things...but in today's Japan, that's not what happens.

    Can the LDP change that culture? Probably not, because frankly they have been in control of Japan for most of a really long time. They *are* the problem, in many ways. If you're a Japanese citizen, the LDP wanting to re-start Japan's nuclear plants probably doesn't sound so great to you.

  • Re:huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by harmony7 ( 1140759 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:41PM (#42316575)
    To give some context for those of you not in Japan: There were 15 political parties in this election. Out of 480 seats in the lower house, LDP won 294 seats. The party that came in second (the DPJ) won 57 seats, and the party that came in third won 54 seats. This huge difference is probably why the expression "landslide" was used.

    The LDP does not yet control the upper house. In Japan, legislation generally must pass in both houses. To overrule decisions made by the upper house, 2/3 of the lower house, or 320 votes are needed, which is the reason for the coalition.
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rising Ape ( 1620461 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:41PM (#42318245)

    I don't know where you live but that isn't allowed in western Europe. We require our coal plants to be reasonably clean and any new ones will have carbon capture built in.

    Hardly - the scrubbers may filter out *most* of the pollutants, but not all by a long way. As for carbon capture - that's still limited to a tiny number of small scale test projects at the moment. None of the planned coal plants in Germany will have it, for example.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:47PM (#42318335)

    The issue isn't insulation from responsibility for disasters. The industry wants loan guarantees so they can borrow money at a reasonable rate to fund construction. Chernobyl and Three Mile island didn't kill nuclear power in the US. Shoreham did ( Investors built a nuclear power plant that they could never operate because the governor refused to approve the evacuation plan. You're never going to be able to borrow billions of dollars at a reasonable interest rate for a project that might be killed at the last minute by political pressure from the uninformed.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Informative)

    by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:57PM (#42319251)

    Wrong. Units 7 and 8 had not been build. Unit 5 and 6 were offline for refuelling. Unit 6 was the only one having a surviving emergency diesel generator. Which wasn't luck. It was a Mark II containment, the same that was used in all four reactors of Fukushima Daini (all with the same generator surviving the tsunami) and the single reactor in Tokai (dito).

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.