Home Asian News Can Japan be both carbon-free and nuclear-free? - Diplomat

Can Japan be both carbon-free and nuclear-free? – Diplomat


Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, scheduled to have summit talks with US President Joe Biden on April 16, has pursued a carbon neutral society. On October 26, 2020, Suga gave birth policy speech before the Japanese parliament and declared that “by the year 2050, Japan will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero”. On the international level, Paris Agreement came into effect in 2016 and Japan as a signatory is obliged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming.

Japan has under international fire on climate issues, as it is the fifth largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world. In an interview with Mainichi Shimbun on May 20, 2019, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg criticized the fact that Japan has been dependent on more than 30% of Japan’s total electricity production and has plans to build and export. new coal-fired power plants. For this reason, Suga is committed to pursuing a carbon-free society was welcome of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres.

Based on a poll reported by Reuters on December 9, 2020, however, many Japanese companies are pessimistic about the feasibility of the government’s carbon-free goal. In it policy proposals In March 2021, the mighty Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) proposed that the government should also rely on efficient coal and nuclear power generation. Before the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan operated 54 nuclear power plants, but currently, only 9 nuclear power plants are in operation. Keidanren proposed that about 30 nuclear power plants should be put into operation again by 2030.

Does Japan really need to continue to depend on nuclear energy as a means of achieving a carbon neutral society? When exploring the answer to this energy conundrum, it is important to consider the changes in share nuclear power generator in Japan. In 2010, 54 nuclear power plants generated nearly 25% of the total electricity produced in Japan. However, at present, the nine nuclear reactors in operation only produce 6% of the total electricity produced in Japan, indicating that Japan has succeeded in addressing the power shortage without dependence. too much into nuclear power in the past 10 years.

Similarly, Fame Japan’s nuclear energy policy needs to be considered. According to a survey by the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, 87% of respondents in 2010 agreed that nuclear energy is needed, but the proportion dropped sharply to 24% in 2013. , after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In a 2019 survey, only 12% of respondents said that nuclear power production should be maintained or increased, while 60% responded that nuclear power should be eliminated or abolished immediately. Obviously, the majority of Japanese people are not in favor of reactivating existing nuclear power plants, less building newer ones.

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From another point of view, Japan’s reliance on nuclear energy makes sense. US Senator Edward Markey pointed out the possibility of nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia, while warning that Japan’s plutonium stockpiles amounted to 48 tons as of 2017, close to that of the US military and enough to generate out more than 6,000 nuclear warheads. Some experts, such as Professor Arima Tetsuo At Waseda University, it has been argued that possessing large amounts of plutonium – more than is necessary for commercial use – represents Japan continuing to open up the option of nuclear weapons. However, paradoxically, Tomas KabergerNuclear reactors and recycling plants could be targeted in the event of an armed attack, increasing vulnerability, said the Executive Council chairman of the Renewable Energy Institute. of the Japanese military.

Although the Suga administration has no construction plan new nuclear reactorThe government will depend on nuclear energy to achieve its carbon neutralization goal. This is because most of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers emphasize the need for nuclear energy, which is seen as a rich source of political support. However, a growing number of LDP politicians support the gradual decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

Akimoto MasatoshiThe former deputy minister of the National Assembly for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, is the most famous LDP legislator for decommissioning nuclear reactors in Japan. Akimoto, a key ally of Suga, has argued that it is possible to create a carbon-free society without a nuclear reactor. Similarly, Kono Taro The ambitious prime minister and former minister of administrative and regulatory reform, was convinced that Japan wanted to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power by facilitating the introduction of more renewable energy.

In the business community, large Japanese companies have tried to overcome pessimism about the feasibility of a carbon-free society, and have changed their business strategies to keep pace with national competition. practice. Japan Climate Initiative (JCI), consisting of 394 largest corporations in Japan, decided to support Suga’s vision of carbon neutral. Japan’s leading trading companies, such as Marubeni and Itochu, will stop investing in new coal mines and coal-fired energy. Toshiba has halted receiving orders to build new coal-fired power plants. Toyota has quickly switched to making hydrogen fuel cell cars. As part of a green growth strategy, the Suga government aims to eliminate it gasoline car for about 15 years, at the same time increasing investment in electric vehicle production.

Moreover, Japanese industries have actively pursued hydrogen as a promising clean energy source. In February 2020, the world’s largest producer of grade hydrogen, Hydrogen research in Fukushimawas founded by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Toshiba, Tohoku Electric Power, and Iwatani Corporation. In addition, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries have actively promoted implementation a hydrogen society. Kawasaki, for example, has revealed the world’s first ship carrying liquefied hydrogen, Suiso Frontier, in December 2019. Suiso Frontier will be able to transport liquefied hydrogen cooled at -253 degrees Celsius from Australia to Japan with Australian cooperation Fortescue metal group. Mitsubishi has linked with major European companies, such as Sweden’s Vattenfall, Germany’s W√§rme Hamburg, and Royal Dutch Shell, aim to facilitate a green hydrogen project.

Without a doubt, the international political landscape has been changing in response to global climate change and the transformation of energyThis will eventually change Japanese politics. On March 11, five former prime ministers – Hosokawa Morihiro, Murayama Tomiichi, Koizumi Junichiro, Hatoyama Yukio and Kan Naoto – expressed a joint statement calling on the Suga government to change its policy towards a Japan without nuclear weapons. Learning from the lessons of Fukushima, Suga and the candidates for the future prime minister position of Japan who share a non-nuclear ideal, such as Kono Taro and Environment Minister Koizumi ShinjiroBold actions are expected to transform Japan’s energy policy towards a carbon-free and nuclear-free Japan.

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