On 11 March it will be four years since a huge earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdown of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. There is still no end in sight for the suffering of the people of Fukushima, but now it seems that the government and the electric power industry are moving inexorably towards the restart of reactors which have been shut down for most of the time since the accident.
“How can this be?”, incredulous observers might wonder. There are a few key factors which make it possible for the government to ignore the wishes of the bulk of the Japanese population for a nuclear phase out.
First, the current government, led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), came to power not because of its support for nuclear energy, but because of the incompetence of its predecessor. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) enjoyed a brief three years in government, a period which happened to coincide with the nuclear accident. Responding to public opposition to nuclear power, it declared a goal of phasing out nuclear energy by 2039, but due to its many other failings it was decimated in December 2012 elections and has failed to recover since. The LDP has returned to the pre-eminent position it has occupied for most of the last 60 years as Japan’s leading party and, because it has no challengers, it is riding roughshod over the public will.… Read more >>