Anonymous, High Position in Public Office in Japan

“The population is indifferent”

N.N holds a high position in public office in Japan. He does not want to be named.


“Up until the Fukushima disaster, the nuclear industry in Japan was a closed circuit. Whoever complained was quickly cast out. In addition to the structural deficiencies, this was definitely one of the main reasons for the accidents at the nuclear power plant. Since then, a number of significant reforms have taken effect: ministries were reorganised and certain posts were created. I am politically independent and have worked for the governments of both political camps.
The attitude of the Japanese people towards nuclear energy is ambivalent. This reveals itself in those living close to the reactors. On the one hand they are quite sceptical, but on the other hand we have the saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds.” The population in big cities are largely indifferent. In Japan you can leave the light on because you simply assume that electrical energy is available at all times and is virtually unlimited. People are of course open to renewable energy and event want to encourage it, but the readiness to limit or even renounce nuclear energy hardly exists.
The industry has zeroed in on this attitude. People say it would be quite feasible to renounce nuclear power plants, but they secretly hope that the original nuclear policy before Fukushima stays in place, which is that half of the electricity demand should come from nuclear sources by 2050. But after Fukushima, no one actually believes this will be the case, and I personally reckon that the majority of currently decommissioned reactors will be up and running sooner or later. On the other hand, I expect a phase-out in the long run. The only question is when will this happen. It’s crucial that clear targets are set now. I think it’s impossible to return to the previous nuclear policy. There will be no more nuclear energy in Japan by 2050 at the latest.”

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Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world's largest nuclear power plant (Image: Triglav)