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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Too much power?

October 16, 2018




VOX POPULI: Balance of power would tilt from nuclear to solar if logic prevailed


Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of The Asahi Shimbun.




Going on a trip after being jilted by one’s lover is a frequent theme of popular Japanese songs, and the destination is often somewhere cold and bleak in the north.


In mega-hit “enka” ballads, such as “Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki” (Tsugaru Strait winter scene) and “Kita no Yado kara” (From an inn in the north), icy winds heighten the heartache.


In contrast, blissful newlyweds used to invariably head south, according to “Ryoko no Susume” (Encouragement of travel) by Yozaburo Shirahata.


Miyazaki Prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu was the top honeymoon destination, bar none, before overseas travel became common for the public.


In the mid-1970s, Miyazaki attracted more than 30 percent of honeymooners nationwide. Neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture was also popular.


Both prefectures offered plenty of sunshine, which was deemed ideal for newlyweds.

This sunny climate must also be the reason for the growing number of solar panels installed in Kyushu.


That should make us happy, but Kyushu Electric Power Co. apparently feels otherwise.

The regional utility has ordered a partial suspension of solar power generation, saying the arrival of cooler weather has reduced consumers’ reliance on air conditioners.


It explained that surplus power generation can disrupt the supply-demand balance and cause outages.


This is something I'd never heard before, but I suppose power generation follows a complex system.


Still, the utility’s four nuclear reactors have remained in operation in accordance with the national government policy of prioritizing nuclear power generation.


Seven years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster prompted the nation to promote solar power generation after seeing the risks of relying on nuclear power.


But have the nation’s utilities been just sitting around all these years, not bothering to prepare themselves for renewable energy?


The companies have no time to waste. They must reinforce their grids to enable mutual sharing of electricity and stop nuclear reactors that are redundant.


Solar power generation is taking off not only in the south, but also around the nation.

Northern Japan also has many localities suited for wind turbine installation.


When young trees are starting to grow, so to speak, they must not be allowed to wither.


--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 15



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