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Monju Fast-Breeder Reactor Set for Decommissioning

At a September 21 ministerial meeting, the Japanese government took a step toward decommissioning the Monju fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture. Cabinet members involved in nuclear power policy agreed to draw up plans within the year for the development of a new fast reactor to replace Monju, operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. The formal decision to decommission the reactor …

Niigata Voters Elect Antinuclear Governor in Blow to Abe’s Energy Policy

Antinuclear candidate Yoneyama Ryūichi won the Niigata gubernatorial contest on October 16, 2016, in a setback to the government’s efforts to restart Tokyo Electric Power’s largest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, located in the prefecture. Yoneyama, a doctor seeking office for the first time as an independent, ran on a platform of opposition to a restart and won the backing of the Japanese Comm…

Timeline for March 2016

A court order forces Takahama Nuclear Power Station to halt operations, the Hokkaidō Shinkansen service starts, and the nation marks five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Here are the major news stories of March 2016.

The Fukushima Cleanup Will Take GenerationsTakahashi Hideki

Five years after the Tōhoku tsunami triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, the cleanup team at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has yet to stem the buildup of contaminated water at the site or determine the precise location of much of the reactor fuel. Veteran journalist Takahashi Hideki, who has reported extensively on the Fukushima accident, visited the site recently to report on the progress of decommissioning and the monumental obstacles that stand in the way of true recovery.

Japan in 2015: The Year’s Top Stories

Security legislation passes amid protests, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō makes a statement to mark the seventieth anniversary of the ending of World War II, and Japanese hostages are killed in Syria. A look back on the biggest Japan-related stories of 2015.

Time to Stop Nursing the Nuclear Power IndustryYoshioka Hitoshi

The resumption of commercial operations at a nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture last September might seem to bode well for the comeback of nuclear energy in Japan after the nationwide shutdown precipitated by the 2011 Fukushima meltdown. But the author argues that the government’s policy of “long-term nursing care” for an unsustainable industry is merely delaying the inevitable while exposing the nation to unacceptable risks.

Timeline for May 2015

The volcano Shindake erupts on the southern island of Kuchinoerabujima, a plan to reform local government in Osaka is defeated, and debate over new security legislation begins in the Diet. These are the top Japanese stories for May 2015.

Japan’s Disastrous “Safety Myth”: Ignoring the Lessons of Minor Nuclear IncidentsSassa Atsuyuki

By denying the existence of risk, the myth of absolute safety, associated particularly with the nuclear power industry, has hampered much-needed improvements in crisis management. Yet over the years before the Fukushima crisis in 2011, there were a number of warnings in the form of minor incidents that should have been heeded. These included the farcical events associated with the launch of the Mutsu nuclear-powered ship in 1974 and a fire at the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in 1995.

Clouds on the Horizon for Solar Power in JapanKikkawa Takeo

Feed-in tariffs were introduced in 2012 to promote renewable energy in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011. But numerous issues have arisen in the two years since. How can solar power and other forms of renewable energy production be promoted sustainably?

Timeline for November 2014

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō calls a general election, the first meeting between Japanese and Chinese leaders for over two years takes place, and film star Takakura Ken passes away. These are the top news stories for November 2014.

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