Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said yesterday that the country must gradually reduce its reliance on atomic power with the eventual goal of becoming nuclear-free.
Four months after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima nuclear accident, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years ago, Kan has repeatedly argued that Japan must focus more on renewable sources of energy.
“By reducing its reliance on nuclear power gradually, we will aim to become a society which can exist without nuclear power,” Kan said at a televised press conference. “Considering the grave risk of nuclear accidents, we strongly feel that we cannot just carry on based on the belief that we must only try to ensure [nuclear] safety.”
Kan earlier announced a full review of Japan’s energy plan, under which atomic power had been set to meet more than half of demand by 2030.
Kan said he wants to make renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal a new “major pillar” of the industrial power’s energy mix.
“If everything goes as scheduled, a renewable energy bill will be discussed in the Diet [legislature] starting tomorrow,” Kan said.
The prime minister, Japan’s fifth in as many years, made the speech at a time when he is under intense pressure to step down from political adversaries who accuse him of having bungled Japan’s response to the tsunami.
Kan has butted heads with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) over the Fukushima accident.
Kan’s skepticism about boosting nuclear power in the quake-prone nation has also set him on a collision course with pro-nuclear lawmakers, both in the conservative opposition and within his own party.
The earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant, which has suffered meltdowns, explosions and radiation leaks into the air, soil and sea.
With all but 19 of Japan’s 54 reactors now shut, mostly for regular checks, Japan is going through a power crunch in the sweltering summer months, and there are fears that outages could slow the already limping economy.
“There are worries about power supply in Japan,” Japanese Minister of Economy Kaoru Yosano said earlier yesterday. “Manufacturers may well consider moving plants to a country with a stable electricity supply or cheaper labor.”
Anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan has grown since the Fukushima disaster and thousands have since protested at a string of rallies against TEPCO and nuclear power and for a shift toward alternative energy.
Telecoms giant Softbank has announced plans to build 10 solar power plants. Softbank president Masayoshi Son and 36 of Japan’s 47 prefectures launched a council yesterday aimed at boosting renewable sources of energy.
The liberal, mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun yesterday called for a shift toward a nuclear-free society within two or three decades.
It pointed at an ongoing energy saving campaign, in which companies in Japan’s northeast are being asked to cut back use by 15 percent, adding that if it works, it proves that Japan can live without atomic power.
“How about setting a target of reducing [atomic power] to zero within 20 years, to urge people to make their utmost efforts, and to review the plan every few years?” the newspaper suggested in its editorial.
LOST AT SEA: Survivors of a sunken Cambodian ship said they floated for two days in open waters, while a UN official said that traffickers might continue undeterred Chinese survivors from a boat that sank near a Cambodian island, killing three people and leaving eight missing, said they embarked on what they believed would be a short-term fishing job and ended up without food and water aboard the vessel, and their belongings were taken away. Cambodian authorities said on Friday they rescued 21 people one day after the boat small wooden fishing vessel sank near Koh Tang, a Cambodian island close to the maritime border with Vietnam. Nine more people were rescued by the Vietnamese and three bodies were recovered by Cambodia, leaving eight people still missing, Preah Sihanouk provincial
SOUTH CHINA SEA: Despite differences on some matters, Marcos has pledged to foster closer ties with China, calling the relationship ‘advantageous’ to both nations The Philippines is interested in renewing talks with China on joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea to expand and diversify its sources of energy, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in an interview. The Southeast Asian country seeks a compromise with China, which is claiming parts of the South China Sea that are within Philippine territory, Marcos said, stressing that any agreement must not contravene his nation’s laws. While the Philippines and China could not agree on which nation’s law would apply, “we continue to explore, perhaps there can be other ways that we can do it,” Marcos
Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin (胡錫進) on Sunday said that as China ponders its COVID-19 policies, epidemic experts need to speak out and China ought to conduct comprehensive research and make any studies transparent to the public. Hu’s unusual call on Chinese social media for candor and transparency earned him 34,000 likes on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging platform, as well as frank responses from commentators in a normally tightly policed Internet quick to censor voices deemed a risk to social stability. China’s top leaders warned in May amid the COVID-19 lockdown of Shanghai and widespread restrictions in the Chinese capital, Beijing,
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Most of the escaped gas is methane, the second biggest contributor to climate change and a ‘potent greenhouse gas,’ an oceanographer said Denmark on Tuesday said it believed “deliberate actions” by unknown perpetrators were behind big leaks — which seismologists said followed powerful explosions — in two natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. European leaders and experts pointed to possible sabotage amid the energy standoff with Russia provoked by the war in Ukraine. Although filled with gas, neither pipeline is currently supplying it to Europe. “It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. However, she added that “there is no information indicating who could be behind it.” Frederiksen