Japan’s new prime minister wants to restart nuclear power in the country


The new Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida.

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After the nuclear disaster that hit Fukushima in 2011, Japan quickly decided to phase out nuclear power. Two years later tsunami led to three nuclear fusions at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan had closed all of its fleet of nuclear generators.

Fumio Kishida, the new Japanese Prime Minister, wants to change that. “It is crucial that we restart nuclear power plants,” Kishida told parliament on Monday, his first time facing questions in parliament since he became prime minister last Monday, Reuters reports. Kishida became leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party at the end of September, a last-minute change of leadership ahead of Japan’s October 31 general election. He should keep his post: the Liberal Democrats have been in power for 61 of the last 66 years.

In a speech to parliament on Friday, Kishida said renewable energy sources like wind and solar would not be enough to power Japan for years to come. This is all the more true as the government pushes the public and private sectors to digitize more, as the country’s face-to-face work culture struggles to adapt to the COVID era.

Read more: “The world’s best last chance” for climate action at COP26. What would you like to know.

“It goes without saying that renewables are important, but our country is in the midst of digitalization, which means that the demand for electricity will increase sharply,” Kishida said Friday, according to Nikkei. “When you think about it, you realize that stability of supply and affordability are just as important as the amount of emissions. This means we need to have a variety of energy sources, including nuclear. and hydrogen as well as renewable energies. ”

Nuclear power is a controversial subject, both in Japan and abroad. While incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima illustrate the grave danger of nuclear fusions, nuclear power emits little carbon and is more reliable than wind and solar electricity. For these reasons, some scientists and environmentalists have pushed governments to embrace more nuclear power, which could replace coal and gas alongside an increase in renewables.

After dragging its feet to set carbon emissions targets, Japan pledged last year to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In May, it pledged to stop to finance coal-fired power stations abroad. Kishida will remotely attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26.

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