Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano yesterday criticized the opposing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for its unclear energy policy, especially regarding nuclear energy. The rebuke comes at a time when the country is gearing up for a general election next month that may wrest power away from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
In the wake of the worst territorial dispute with China in recent history over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands, Japan is rapidly looking to other countries for sources of rare earth mineral imports. Yukio Edano, the Minster of Economy, Trade, and Industry, commented on Monday that he expects Japan to be getting 50% of its supplies from countries other than China by the middle of 2013. Such a rapid shift away from China will significantly reduce the dependence Japan's technology industry has on the country, as well ensure a stable supply for the future.
Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka is eager to use more domestic devices and other products, especially when he has to use them for his research in regenerative medicine and stem cells. Apparently he had a word with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, asking them to encourage the domestic development of such items. It seems that he has to source much of his products from the United States and other countries, thus leaving him frustrated.
Typically, the forces of demand and supply drive a market, however the energy market is very different. Although India and Japan are the world's largest and fifth-largest LNG (liquified natural gas) importer, they do not have much control in influencing the market pricing. Apparently for the Asian markets, countries like Japan and India are compelled to make contracts with gas-producing countries in which LNG prices are linked to crude oil prices.
Taking a clear and adamant stance on the country's use of nuclear energy, Japanese Industry Minister Yukio Edano has said that nuclear power plants are too much of a risk, and they need to be shut down as quickly as possible. Edano feels that last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster, triggered by the March 11th tsunami, serves as more than enough proof that the price to pay for using nuclear power is far too high, especially for one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. These opinions and more are shared in a book of Edano's policy views that was published on Friday.
While the Japanese government stated last Friday that it was formally adopting a goal of reaching zero usage of nuclear energy by 2040, it is also going to allow two new nuclear power plants to be built. Yukio Edano, the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, has said that the plans to build two nuclear facilities in Aomori and Shimane Prefectures will be allowed to continue because their construction had already begun before the March 11th disasters. It doesn't really make sense how building new reactors will quickly lead to less reliance on nuclear power, but then again, this is the Japanese government we're talking about.
Shortly after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda publicly commented that he would consider the difficulties it would take to get the country to a zero-reliance on nuclear power, but not necessarily make it an end-goal, the Minister of Industry, Yukio Edano, has said that eliminating the use of nuclear power could not only be done by the year 2030, but it would also be good for the nation's economy. When asked what the impact would be of permanently shutting down all of Japan's reactors, he responded that working towards zero-reliance would create growth in renewable energy development and greatly improve energy efficiency.
Japan's central government stated on Thursday that it would approve of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s electricity rate increase by as much as 8.47%, a little less than the 10.28% the utility company had originally requested. This comes just days after a Consumer Affairs Agency panel called for a decrease in salaries before a price increase for consumers. The company also responsible for managing the Fukushima power plant was also condemned for passing along the costs of last year's nuclear disaster to it customers.
A panel from Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency has advised Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) that employee salaries should be cut by a minimum of 30% before increasing the rates of electricity for households. TEPCO's current salary cuts stand at 20% for regular workers, and 25% for management. The utility company responsible for managing the Fukushima nuclear plant was also found to have tried passing on 48.7 billion yen (approx. $615.6 million) in yearly disaster costs to its customers in the form of increased fees.
Let’s call it the case of the pot calling the kettle black. On one hand we have the Japan Patent Office revising their policy on allowing companies to register smells, sounds and textures as trademarks in Japan. On the other hand, they cry foul when Chinese companies register product that have a striking resemblance to Japanese creations, for trademarks. Currently Japan allows for letters, figures and three-dimensional shapes to be trademarked. However western influence seems to be catching up, as some countries allow smells, sounds, movements, textures and colors to be patented.