Japan Announces Plan to Phase Out Nuclear Energy by 2040

After months of debate and public polling over what do to with its nuclear energy policy going forward, the Japanese government has announced a plan to completely end the country’s reliance on nuclear energy by 2040.

Japan had been considering a number of options in response to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. Possibilities also included capping its nuclear energy contribution at 15 percent or 20-25 percent.

While there are some specifics in the plan, many of the details have yet to be defined. Motohisa Furukawa, Japan’s minister of state for national policy, suggested the “loose guidelines” could be altered in the future, according to The New York Times.

The vagueness of the decision and the length of time of the plan have been met with heavy criticism.

“The zero number might be symbolic politically, but in reality, it holds little meaning.” said Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Tokyo, in The New York Times, adding, “How is the government going to push through reactor restarts when there’s still so much opposition? It has no clue what to do next month, never mind by the 2030s.”

Fred Hiatt outlined several additional issues in an op-ed in The Washington Post, such as the fact Japan will have to rely on energy sources that produce greenhouse gases. He also questioned how the country would be able to keep its reactors safe for the next several decades when people are unwilling to train for a potentially waning industry. He also questioned which countries would drive nuclear advances going forward — and whether they will hold themselves to the same safety standards.