CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS
This week both Japan’s environment minister, Nobuteru Ishihara, and former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a popular national figure, spoke out against nuclear power.
Ishihara said the country’s target to cut greenhouse gas emissions should be based on a scenario with no nuclear power generation.
Previously in January Ishihara had said that Japan will set a new emissions target, including how much nuclear power generation should account for, by November after reviewing the previous government’s goal to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.
Meanwhile, in a speech to a pro-nuclear audience of business executives, Koizuma went against the grain by saying that Japan should “should rid itself of its atomic plants and switch to renewable energy sources like solar power.”
Koizuma went on to say that “there is nothing more costly than nuclear power. Japan should achieve zero nuclear plants and aim for a more sustainable society.”
Japan’s last operating nuclear reactor was halted for maintenance in September, leaving the nation without nuclear energy for the first time since July 2012.
It’s been two and a half years since the earthquake and tsunami that lead to the environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeast Japan.
However, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home. Recently the government admitted that the cleanup is hopelessly behind schedule in many towns.
In another sign that recovery has been slow and unreliable Fukushima operators said yesterday that the plant spilled at least 110 gallons of radioactive water when workers overfilled a storage tank that lacked a gauge that could have warned them of the danger.
While minor in size, the leak is substantial in public impact and adds to a string of leaks, including a major one in August when TEPCO reported a 300-ton leak from another storage tank.
Also adding concern are the recent high levels of radioactively contaminated groundwater around the plant for which the government is spending $470 billion to build an underground “ice wall” to block groundwater inflows and prevent potential leaks from spreading.
In August, the Japanese government acknowledged that the Fukushima plant is still leaking about 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day.
All this controversy comes on the heels of Tokyo being awarded the 2020 Summer Olympic Games after Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe assured the International Olympic Committee that the Fukushima disaster is under control.