Japan is planning a move to shutter all nuclear plants by the 2030s, Japanese media reported Thursday, a major policy shift for a resource-poor nation that once depended on atomic power for a third of its energy.
The nuclear phaseout, reported by both the Kyodo News agency and broadcaster NHK based on a draft of the policy, comes amid fierce political debate about this country’s 50 operable reactors, which are both prone to disaster and vital to the economy.
The gradual turn away from nuclear power over the next two decades represents a major concession from Japan’s traditionally pro-nuclear leaders to a largely anti-nuclear public, whose fears were stoked by the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
But it also prompts new worries about how Japan will make up for a gaping energy deficit, and whether it can eventually grow renewable energy into a cheap alternative. In the short term, Japan will have to rely on increased imports of fossil fuels, raising the nation’s energy prices as well as its greenhouse-gas emissions.