Japan turning away from nuclear energy after Fukushima
12 March 2012
The highways have been rebuilt, but Japan has found that the villages and towns swept away by an earthquake and tsunami a year ago are harder to re-establish. But the wider effects would continue to be felt across the country for years.
After the nuclear-plant meltdown, Japan is rethinking nuclear energy, making it more keenly interested in western Canadian pipelines that might see natural gas shipped overseas to Asia at some date in the future.
A year following the devastation wreaked by the earthquake and the tsunami, the streets have been cleared and the wreckage removed from town centres, however, the process of destroying all that debris has been slow, and much of it still rests in huge mountains in temporary holding areas.
The disaster killed 19,000, decimated towns and caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that kept the island nation on tenterhooks and left its people wary of relying on nuclear energy in the future.
According to Japan's ambassador to Canada, Kaoru Ishikawa, the highways have been rebuilt, and major companies had been able to repair and restart factories in the affected zones of eastern Japan. The Japanese government has offered tax incentives for companies to invest and financial assistance to individuals.
But a backlash against nuclear energy is clearly visible among the people. There are widespread power shortages across the country as not just Fukushima but other nuclear plants have been shut down. Though officially the shutdowns are temporary, many believe Japan would never again rely so heavily on its 54 nuclear plants.
Before the disaster, around 30 per cent of Japan's electricity was generated by nuclear power, but since then most of the country's nuclear reactors have been shut for stress tests and scrutiny. But these may never re-open and whether the public would allow reliance on nuclear power remains unanswered. To add to the worries, Japan has posted record trade deficits as it had been forced to import more energy.