Will Japan Turn Back to Nuclear Energy?


The Fukushima reactor complex prior to the devastating 2011 earthquake that put Japan's nuclear program under question.

Japan had plans to construct nine new nuclear power plants by 2020 and at least another 14 by 2030. After Fukushima, Japan’s then Prime Minister Kan advocated replacing nuclear energy with renewables.

Kan resigned because of criticism of his handling of the crisis and questions over his energy strategy. Japan's current Prime Minister has changed course and backed away from his predecessors sudden shift to phasing out nuclear and jumping headlong into renewable energy.

Japan has little of its own coal, oil or natural gas so the country has made up a good portion of their missing nuclear supplied energy by burning even more imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal and fuel oil. Japan is now the world’s largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas and is the second largest importer of oil – the country now imports about 84% of its energy requirements. All of Japans LNG imports come from the middle east and LNG currently supplies a large portion of Japan’s energy needs.

In response to an appeal for support from the U.S. regarding an Iranian oil sanction Japan pledged to cut Iranian oil imports - Iranian crude makes up just 10 percent of Japan’s overall oil imports.

“It would cause immense damage if they were cut to zero.” Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said referring to Japan’s Iranian imports.

Japan has unplugged their nuclear reactors that provided 30 percent of the country’s electricity before Fukushima.

“They’re swapping fossil fuels for nuclear, and that’s driving up their CO2 emissions and the carbon intensity of their electricity supply.” Jesse Jenkins, energy analyst, the Breakthrough Institute.

It will be difficult for any country to achieve sustainable energy supplies and curb greenhouse gases, particularly Japan, unless nuclear power remains an important part of their energy mix.

Many decisions, made with the best of intentions, yet undertaken when emotions are running high might not result in the best direction for individuals or countries.  Due to energy security, safety and the necessity to reduce their carbon footprint, will Japan turn back to nuclear energy?

Rick Mills

Rick Mills

Contributing Editor

Email: rick[at]miningfeeds.com

Richard Mills, author and host of Ahead of the Herd, is an active investor and commentator in the junior resource sector. Rick’s work covers the spectrum of company analysis and macroeconomics.

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