About one year has passed since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on March 11, 2011. Almost all of Japans 54 nuclear reactors, which supplied approximately 30% of the nations electric power, are now off-line. The Japanese economy is facing serious challenges of power shortages, soaring fuel prices and increasing CO2 emissions. Looking at the global situation, while only a few nations have decided to withdraw from nuclear power following the Fukushima accident, such as Germany, most pro-nuclear countries appear to be maintaining their policy, albeit with some delays in their nuclear plans.
Asian countries such as China and India, which are planning to increase nuclear power generation by 4-6 times in the next 20 years, will struggle to secure manpower for assuring the safety of nuclear power plants. Furthermore, the trend of the Arab Spring and the sanctions against Irans nuclear program have caused crude oil prices to rise, casting a shadow over the world economy. Suspensions and delays in nuclear power development will make it extremely difficult to resolve global warming problems. In short, we are living in a world of enormous uncertainty.
The key to eradicating this uncertainty is to ensure nuclear safety. This means not only technologies, safety standards and human resource development, but also appropriate governance among national and local governments, regulatory organizations, and corporations. Japan and the U.S. must work together to propose technologies, criteria and governance to ensure the safety of nuclear power around the world including Asia. The Forum on Energy is expected to serve as a robust platform for establishing close co-operation not only between Japan and the U.S. but also worldwide, in order to promote safe nuclear power, while closely monitoring global developments.
— by Masakazu Toyoda, CEO & Chairman, Institute of Energy Economics, Japan
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