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article imageOp-Ed: Japan’s new energy policy has worldwide implications

By Jacki Viles     Sep 14, 2012 in World
Tokyo - Nuclear energy had been touted as the cheap energy solution of the future 50 years ago. But the sad fact is that there are no small incidents when you are talking about nuclear energy. The cost in lives for cheap energy has taken its toll.
As was reported in the Digital Journal, the Japanese government has released their policy advisory stating that they will be abandoning nuclear energy. The advisory will become part of their new national long term energy policy.
Private businesses have already committed to going green. Kyocera, Tokio Marine Assets, SoftBank and other major corporations have already made major solar energy commitments. Clearly this is nothing but good news for the green energy industry.
But the Japanese policy change has worldwide implications. The technology, the business and the politics of the nuclear energy industry is far reaching and officials from the U.S., Great Britain and France have been literally flying across the globe meeting with heads of state this week. Japan, U.S., Great Britain and France generate 50% of the world’s nuclear energy.
The nuclear fuel cycle policy in Japan includes a reprocessing contract with France and Great Britain. Plutonium is extracted and processed into mixed oxide fuel for use by Japanese utility companies. The waste is stored in facilities in Aomori Prefecture. As of this week Aomori has stopped accepting any more radioactive waste products. Japan is also a major importer radioactive waste.
This new policy can leave Great Britain and France storing radioactive waste with no buyer. The British Ambassador to Japan, David Warren has already made a visit to Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura imploring him to honor the agreement to pick up waste. The French are sure to follow suit. The financial implication of losing a large scale business sector for Europe couldn’t come at a worse time as the countries are already struggling through tough financial times.
As governments across the globe try to mitigate risk, China is standing by watching and waiting. China stands to emerge as the leading nuclear power in the world. The Chinese have shown tremendous growth and their imported fuel consumption hasn’t gone unnoticed. They are building nuclear power plants across the country as fast as they can. We can only hope that safety is their number one priority.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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