Post-tsunami Japan sticking with nuclear power
Takashi Yamada would prefer life without the nearby nuclear power plant. But the 66-year-old retired electronics retailer says, “It is also true we all need it.”
Host communities such as this seaside city on the island of Shikoku need the jobs and financial subsidies the plants provide. And Japan’s $5.5 trillion economy needs the energy.
Many Japanese have grown uneasy with nuclear power since the March 11 tsunami, which left more than 20,000 dead or missing and sent a plant in Fukushima into meltdown. Anti-nuke protesters took to the streets, and a heated debate ensued over the future of atomic energy. A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that 55 percent of Japanese want to reduce the number of reactors in the country.
Six months later, though, the nation seems to be sticking with nuclear power, at least for now. Unlike Germany, which accelerated plans to phase out atomic energy after Fukushima, Japan shows no signs of doing so. In recent days, utilities began newly mandated earthquake and tsunami stress tests, a first step toward restarting reactors idled for maintenance.