A senior politician from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party this week warned of severe economic consequences if Japan does not restart nuclear reactors soon.
“The economy will eventually stall in terms of energy cost,” cautioned Hiroyuki Hosoda, executive acting secretary general of the LDP, in a speech reported by the Kyodo news service in The Mainichi. ”Power companies will face capital deficits in around three years if their reactors remain idled, and the basis of their existence will be affected.”
His remarks echo those we reported recently from Nobuo Tanaka, a global associate with the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ), which advises Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Tanaka warned of potential “economic crisis or catastrophe” if the country fails to embrace nuclear power again.
Japan has shut all but two of its 54 nuclear reactors in the wake of meltdowns triggered when the tragic March 2011 tsunami knocked out poorly cited emergency diesel generators that had powered cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Prior to the shutdown, nuclear power had generated about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity. The country has paid a high financial and environmental cost by filling some of the power gap with imported fossil fuels.
The IEEJ recently said that Japan could save $20 billion by simply restarting only half of its idled reactors.
Political and public opinion has been swinging back towards support of nuclear.
Although 80 percent of Japanese said less than a year ago that they opposed nuclear power, the public in December voted in a pro-nuclear government led by the LDP’s Shinzo Abe, who has announced a review of the previous government’s intentions to completely phase out nuclear by 2040.
Last month, Japan’s (and the world’s) largest daily newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, backed a return to nuclear power.
Photo credit: Foreign correspondents club of Japan