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

"Ill-timed and unwise" restart

June 5, 2013


EDITORIAL: Abe's growth strategy misses the big picture by reverting to nuclear energy



The Shinzo Abe administration reportedly has its mind set on encouraging the “effective use of nuclear power generation” in the economic growth strategy it will decide on June 14. That plan complies with the wishes of the electric power industry and the business community in general to restart their nuclear reactors.

The idea is ill-timed and unwise, and we urged the administration to drop it. Reviving the nation’s reliance on nuclear energy could nip newly emerging energy-related businesses in the bud.

The government, of course, should be concerned about the immediate economic consequences of power shortages and the higher costs to be incurred by relying more on thermal power generation. We are fully aware that politicians are responsible for preventing undesirable consequences.

However, an economic growth strategy is meant to provide a “new direction” to the Japanese economy over the medium to long term.

In fact, the economic growth strategy is expected to include energy policies such as promoting the introduction of high-efficiency thermal power generation and the development of floating wind turbines and energy-saving “smart communities.”

More than two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, some businesses are finally beginning to venture into these new fields. And surely, the government’s economic growth strategy should focus on supporting those newcomers that are braving such odds as uncertain profitability and insufficient infrastructure.

If the government now make its intention clear to revert to the use of nuclear energy, it will only help to preserve the traditional power industry and raise the bar for new energy businesses. This runs counter to the government’s power supply reform plans that aim to end regional monopolies by major utilities and encourage deregulation and free competition.

And more than anything, it contradicts the Abe administration’s stated policy of “reducing the nation’s dependence on nuclear power generation as much as possible.”

Fukushima’s problems are still far from resolved. The entire world is watching how Japan will deal with this dilemma. The government would be missing the big picture by going along only with the parties that want to quickly resume nuclear power generation.

Back in the 1970s, Honda Motor Co. had a poor reputation in the U.S. market. But the automaker took the introduction of America’s stringent emission regulations as the cue for developing eco-friendly, high fuel-efficiency engines. The innovation laid the foundations for its present-day success.

History shows that bold ideas are born and technological leaps occur in times of great difficulty.

We believe Japan’s superior technology and human resources will shine most brightly if the country decides that the road to growth lies in doing away with nuclear power generation.

Even within the government’s Industrial Competitiveness Council, which is discussing the economic growth strategy, some members from the private sector are reportedly voicing caution against any hasty reversion to the traditional reliance on nuclear energy.

There is still time before the Abe administration finalizes its economic growth strategy. We want it to be of a nature that will give us hope for the future.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 1


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