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Japan’s Nuclear Energy Debate: A Year After the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

Shamshad Ahmed Khan was Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here to for detailed profile
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  • March 22, 2012

    The massive earthquake and tsunami which triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis on March 11, 2011 has shattered the Japanese people’s faith in the safety of nuclear power generation. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) which manages the plant has stated that it was the unprecedented tsunami that caused the nuclear crisis. Therefore, in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear crisis the Japanese people were demanding to put in place additional safety measures to enable nuclear power plants withstand a future tsunami. However, the people’s perception drastically changed when a section of nuclear experts contested TEPCO’s claim and asserted that the nuclear plant was damaged by the quake even before the tsunami hit the plant. Another factor that has led to a major change in public perception was the findings that the Fukushima nuclear plant spewed a large amount of radioactive material, which would remain suspended in the atmosphere and could be hazardous for health. These factors have left a deep impact on the Japanese psyche, leading to a revival of anti-nuclearism in Japan. Japanese civil society has been demanding a phase out of the country’s nuclear power generation programme. Amidst this debate, the government is mulling a new energy plan, which is likely to downsize the nuclear power programme and invest more in renewables.

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