While the writing has been on the wall for some time now, Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is now among those who think Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won’t take any action towards the previous administration’s goal of ending Japan’s usage of nuclear power by the 2030s. Even during the campaign leading up to his December election, Abe said that he would not be rushing to shut down the country’s reactors, but would instead call for detailed safety evaluations to see which could be restarted following the March 2011 Fukushima crisis.
In an interview with Engineering News Online, the IAEA’s Amano commented that after meeting with Abe and other government ministers in January, he got the strong impression that a return to the use of nuclear power was supported, and there is little talk of the option of a gradual phase out. Amano adds that it will take them time to develop it, but Abe’s government will develop and establish a new energy policy. Shortly after his election, the Japanese premier said that he planned to have new nuclear reactors and power plants constructed, as opposed to updating and repairing many of those with questionable safety conditions, yet built with new requirements for earthquake and tsunami preparedness.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is often seen as business-friendly, and the condition of Japan’s utilities losing money since the suspension of existing reactors after Fukushima has been no secret. In addition, because of the halting of nuclear power, Japan has rapidly increased its importing of oil, causing the country to record a deficit for the first time in 30 years. This deficit is increasing, says Amano, along with the threat of pollution from using more fossil fuels. While Amano certainly points out some of the bigger difficulties Japan is facing in a lack of nuclear power, he says very little about the true causes of the Fukushima disaster and what the continued threats to the safety of nuclear power plants are, namely the corruption and collusion between the government, utilities, and the industry regulators.
[via Engineering News]
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