Japan will shut down its nuclear energy sector by 2040, ending a heavy reliance on a power source that provided a third of its energy until 2011.
The country’s renunciation of nuclear power is a victory for anti-nuclear activists and environmentalists who were galvanized into action by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster of March 2011.
“The government will introduce every possible policy resource that would enable nuclear power generation to be at zero during the 2030s,” according to a government report.
Japan first plans to close reactors that are over 40 years old. It will not build any new nuclear reactors and will only restart existing reactors if they pass standards issued by a new regulatory agency.
The decision announced Sept.14 comes 18 months after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown resulted in the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
Japan, however, is paying a heavy price for abandoning nuclear power. It is now heavily dependent on Middle East oil and has been forced to increase imports to make up the energy shortfall since Fukushima.
A policy paper released by the government last week recommended Japan make greater use of renewable energy and take further energy saving measures, including the use of smart metering. It also said Japan should look to cheaper procurement of liquefied natural gas and other fossil fuels, including shale gas.
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