Japan is Nuclear Free, again
A brief, dirty and biased history of the nuclear experience in Japan:
- Aug 1945, the US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing at least 150K people in 4 months.
- In 1954 Japan initiated its reactor construction program working with the UK, first reactor goes online in 1966
- In the 1970’s Japan partners with GE and Westinghouse, copies their designs and starts working without them.
- In the 1970s and 80s fossil fuel poor Japan builds the world’s third largest fleet of reactors (after US and France)
- In 1988 Japan starts construction of liquid metal breeder reactor at Monju
- In 1993 Japan starts construction of the plutonium reprocessing plant Rokkasho
- In 1995 sodium leaks from Monju reactor and catches fire, operator attempts coverup
- 1995 on – public opinion sours on nuclear and all subsequent ordered reactors are cancelled
- In 2006 Toshiba buys Westinghouse’s nuclear division for US$5.4 billion
- In 2007 Hitachi and GE nuclear merge in joint venture dominated by Hitachi
- March 2011, 3 reactors meltdown at Fukushima, 210K people evacuated from area.
- March 2011, with 38 of 54 reactors idle, utilities forecast nationwide blackouts
- July 2011, with minimal energy efficiency program in place Japan produces huge electricity surplus
- May 2012 all reactors in Japan close, utilities forecast nationwide blackouts and recession
- July 2012 two reactors at Oi are restarted, despite public protest and local opposition
- July 2012 government report on Fukushima comes out blaming utilities, government and regulators
- July 2012 and onward – weekly anti-nuclear protests draw tens to hundreds of thousands.
- July 2012, TEPCO (Fukushima’s owning utility) receives 1 trillion yen bailout and is partly nationalized
- 2012 Japanese government discontinues hugely successful energy saving program
- March 2011 thru Dec 2012, Japan has no blackouts, no recession and the economy outperforms the US. Japan has highest GDP ever in 2012, despite almost the entire nuclear fleet being down the entire year.
- Dec 2012 Japan elects a pro-nuclear government due to fears of China and economic concerns.
- May 2013 Monju is found on a fault line and short 10K inspections, Rokkasho is behind schedule and billions over budget
- Aug 2013 New tanks are leaking, increased radiation into ocean, fishing banned permanently
- Sept 2013 two Oi reactors are closed again, Japan is nuclear free, industry predicts blackouts.
- In 2013 Japan reaches 10 GW installed solar power fifth in world (after Italy, China, Germany and US)
- [Update] Sept 2014 New Japanese nuclear regulator (NRA) approve 2 Sendia reactors for restart (despite siesmic and volcano problems). But PM Abe has an uphill battle to get them started, communities in the south-western Kagoshima prefecture, must approve the plant and they are not inclined to.
- [Update] Sept 2014 No blackouts for a year, Japan installs second largest number of solar panels after only China. Abe government contents economy requires reactors.
- [Update] Sept 2014 Japan replaces 13 reactors worth of power with reduced demand and 3 reactors with with new renewables.
- [Update] March 2016. A Japanese district court ordered the closure of the Takahama reactors 3 and 4, damaging the Abe governments efforts to restart reactors.
So if you read the above timeline you will notice a common thread. Every time the utilities lose nuclear capacity they claim the country is facing blackouts or recession. And then these blackouts and recessions do not occur. Then the industry claims them again. Nestled among the items here is the government’s repeal of the fantastically successful energy savings program. So when they tell you in a panic that we must have these reactors, remember they are being coached by some of the highest paid PR people in the world, these things don’t come to pass and they depend on your ignorance of history and willingness to believe known liars to advance their agenda.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]