(AP) — Japan will scrap a plan to obtain half of its electricity from
nuclear power and will instead promote renewable energy and conservation
as a result of its ongoing nuclear crisis, the prime minister said
Kan said Japan needs to “start from scratch” on its long-term energy
policy after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was heavily
damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami and began leaking
plants supplied about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity, and the
government had planned to raise that to 50 percent by 2030.
told a news conference that nuclear and fossil fuel used to be the
pillars of Japanese energy policy but now the government will add two
more pillars: renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass, and an
increased focus on conservation.
will thoroughly ensure safety for nuclear power generation and make
efforts to further promote renewable energy,” an area where Japan has
lagged, he said.
also said he would take a pay cut beginning in June until the Fukushima
nuclear crisis is resolved to take responsibility as part of the
government that has promoted nuclear energy. He didn’t specify how much
of a pay cut he would take.
believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted
nuclear energy as national policy. I apologize to the people for
failing to prevent the nuclear accident,” Kan said.
operator of the stricken power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has
been struggling for nearly two months to restore critical cooling
systems that were knocked out by the disaster. Some 80,000 people living
within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the plant were evacuated from
their homes on March 12, with many living in gymnasiums.
On Tuesday, about 100 evacuees were allowed into that exclusion zone briefly to gather belongings from their homes.
excursion to Kawauchi village marked the first time the government has
felt confident enough in the safety of the area to allow even short
trips there. Residents have been pushing hard for weeks for permission
to check up on their homes.
The evacuees boarded chartered government buses for the two-hour visit.
were provided with protective suits, goggles and face masks to wear
while in the zone, and were issued plastic bags to put their belongings
in. They were also given dosimeters to monitor radiation levels and
All were to be screened for radiation contamination after leaving the zone.
More visits are planned, but residents fear they may never be able to return for good.
had been secretly sneaking back into the zone during the day, but the
government — concerned over safety and the possibility of theft — began
enforcing stricter roadblocks and imposing fines on April 22.
The official visits were seen as a compromise that took both safety and the wishes of the residents into consideration.
government and TEPCO in April projected that bringing the plant to a
cold shutdown could take six to nine months and residents might be able
to return to resume their lives. But they admit that timing is a
released an image of the No. 3 reactor’s spent fuel pool, where fuel
rods were covered with debris from explosions in March that damaged the
building’s roof and walls. But officials said the fuel rods, protected
by a metal screen, are believed to be largely undamaged.
reactor’s rising core temperature has become a new headache. Nuclear
Industry and Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said officials
suspect that not all of the cooling water may be entering the pressure
container as intended.
Monday, another utility, Chubu Electric Power Co., agreed to shutter
three reactors at a coastal power plant while it builds a seawall and
improves other tsunami defenses there.
requested the temporary shutdown at the Hamaoka plant amid predictions
an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or higher could strike the central
Japanese region within 30 years. The government’s decision came after
evaluating Japan’s 54 reactors for quake and tsunami vulnerability after
the March 11 disasters. The Hamaoka facility sits above a major fault
line and has long been considered Japan’s riskiest nuclear power plant.
said Japan will have to compile Japan’s new energy policy in a report
for submission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in June. He
didn’t give any numerical estimates for each source of energy in the new
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that he will organize a
high-level meeting on nuclear safety Sept. 22 on the sidelines of the
General Assembly in New York.
will present a UN system-wide study on the implications of the accident
at Fukushima,” Ban told a meeting on disaster risk reduction in Geneva.
Associated Press writer Eric Talmadge contributed to this report.
SOURCE: The Associated Press