Japan’s U-Turn on Nuclear Power

Professor William Tsutsui, dean of SMU's Dedman College and an expert on Japan, talks about Japan's changing attitude toward nuclear power.

By Eli Kintisch

Yesterday, Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, announced that the government was scrapping a planned expansion of nuclear power, which currently provides about a third of Japanese electricity.

Instead, the government would redouble efforts to expand its renewable energy portfolio, Kan said. The turnaround followed Kan’s urging last week that a reactor in Hamaoka, near an active seismic zone, be shut down; the company that runs the plant has agreed and is building a seawall to protect the plant from tsunamis when it reopens in 2 years.

The Fukushima disaster “gives the Japanese an opportunity,” Japan business expert William Tsutsui of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, tells ScienceInsider. “It could be a shot in the arm for renewable technologies.”

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