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Can Japan Phase Out Nuclear Power?

The country wants to go nuclear-free, but many obstacles remain

3 min read
Man in Japan protesting nuclear power
Photo: Rie Ishii/AFP/Getty Images

Before the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident of 2011, Japan was the third largest producer of nuclear power in the world. Its 54 reactors had a capacity of about 50 gigawatts. Now the Japanese government is contemplating whether it can scale down from 50 GW to zero by 2040 without crippling its economy in the process. 

A government policy paper [PDF] released in September called for the elimination of all nuclear power by 2040, and public opinion polls have shown that the majority of citizens favor a phaseout. But the matter is far from settled: The policy paper elicited strong protests from business groups, and consequently the Cabinet, the executive branch of Japan’s government, declined to endorse the zero-nuclear goal.

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Greg Mably

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