FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Japan’s Long Atomic Sayonara

As demonstrators from the Coalition Against Nukes prepare to descend on Washington DC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the world’s third-largest economy has taken a landmark step toward Solartopia.

A pro-nuclear Japanese government has announced it will phase out all commercial reactors by 2040.

It comes as atomic power continues to plummet and reactors go dark in Germany, France, Quebec, California and elsewhere.

Japan’s announcement has gotten mixed domestic reviews. Powerful industrial leaders say it’s unrealistic. Some reports indicate the government intends to proceed with new reactors already on order. But a burgeoning grassroots No Nukes movement is demanding a faster phase-out of existing reactors and is sure to put up fierce resistance to any new ones being built, whether they’re on the books now or not.

In any event, this latest announcement, coming from an intensely pro-nuclear administration, virtually rules out Japan’s long-standing vision of building a new generation of large commercial reactors. So much for the Japanese edition of the “nuclear renaissance.”

In principle, Japan has joined Germany in moving to end the nuclear age. The world’s fourth-largest economy—the biggest in Europe—Germany has shut 8 of its 19 reactors and will have the rest down by 2022. Like Japan, Germany has been at the core of the global reactor industry, and once harbored plans for many more. Now it has plunged deep into the business of renewables, with heavy emphasis on wind and solar.

All but two of Japan’s fifty-plus reactors remain shut. Its No Nukes movement has soared since Fukushima, with mass marches frequently in the tens of thousands. Despite dire industry predictions, Japan survived a nuke-free summer without major blackouts.

The aggressively pro-nuclear administration of Noda Yoshihiko has met fierce grassroots resistance against forcing open two reactors, and is expected to lose upcoming elections. Its advocacy of a long phase-out was meant to placate both industrial and No Nukes interests, but has angered both.

Japan remains at the center of the global industry. Key heavy components are still manufactured there. But bitter debate about the health impacts of Fukushima has escalated. New reports cast serious doubt on the integrity of safety regulations, and on the wisdom of siting so many reactors near earthquake faults and in coastal areas threatened by tsunamis.

The industry’s decline has been accelerated in France, where the new Socialist Prime Minister Francois Hollande says he’ll shut an embattled reactor at Fessenheim “as soon as possible.” Public opinion polls show substantial support for a shift to renewables.

A new government in Quebec will shut Gentilly II. In California, new reports on the cold San Onofre 2 & 3 indicate deep problems that make a re-start more doubtful than ever. And a whistleblower has warned that flood damage at Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun reactor may be more serious than previously believed.

Riding the wave of anti-nuclear news is a September 20-22 series of DC eventsorganized by the Coalition Against Nukes. The action starts Thursday with a rally on the Capitol Mall, a Congressional briefing and an evening gathering and concert. Friday opens with a ceremony at the Native American Museum, followed by a demonstration at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland, and evening film showings at DC’s Letelier Theater. Saturday concludes with a day-long strategy session. With activists convening from around the US and Japan, the gathering promises to lend the No Nukes movement new focus.

They’ll be dissecting an industry in steep decline. Germany and Japan’s phase-out decisions mean two of the industry’s key players will build no more nukes. The four reactors barely under construction in the US are already plagued with structural and financial problems, and are under intense political fire.

China has yet to decide what it will do in the wake of Fukushima. India is being rocked by huge demonstrations at the Koodankulam complex. Russia and South Korea remain in the hunt, but it’s unclear how far they can go with a global complex on the brink of implosion.

Then there’s Iran. Before 1979 the US and France wanted the Shah to build 36 reactors. Now there’s talk of war over a “Peaceful Atom” that many believe could lead to an Iranian Bomb.

All-in-all, the “nuclear renaissance” is in serious relapse. General Electric’s Jeffrey Immelt has portrayed atomic energy as an obsolete, uneconomic alternativedespite his company being one of its major pioneers.

As Germany, Japan, France, Quebec and so many others leap toward Solartopia, the future of wind, solar and a green-powered future looks ever more promising.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is atwww.harveywasserman.ning.com, along with WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION?, co-authored with Bob Fitrakis. 


More articles by:

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail