By MARTIN FACKLER | The New York Times | Link to article
TOKYO — Prime Ministersaid Tuesday that would abandon plans to build more nuclear reactors, saying his country needed to “start from scratch” in creating a new energy policy.
Mr. Kan’s announcement came as Japan allowed residents of evacuated areas around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to briefly revisit their homes for the first time since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March caused the nuclear accident at the plant.
Tuesday’s decision will mean the abandonment of a plan that the Kan government released last year to build 14 nuclear reactors by 2030 and increase the share of nuclear power in Japan’s electricity supply to 50 percent. Japan currently has 54 reactors that before the earthquake produced 30 percent of its electricity.
The cancellation of the planned nuclear plants is the second time that Mr. Kan has suddenly announced big changes in Japanese nuclear policy without the usual endless committee meetings and media leaks that characterize the country’s consensus-driven decision-making process. Mr. Kan appears to be seeking a stronger leadership role after criticism of his government’s sometimes slow and indecisive handling of the Fukushima accident.
Last week, Mr. Kan asked a utility company to suspend operations at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which sits atop an active earthquake fault line, about 120 miles southwest of Tokyo. After three days of delays, the utility, the Chubu Electric Power Company, finally agreed Monday to shut down the plant until a wave wall could be built and other measures taken to strengthen its defenses against earthquakes and tsunamis.
The announcement Tuesday came just days after Mr. Kan said Japan remained committed to nuclear power. His apparent pull- back may be driven partly by public opinion, which has significantly soured on nuclear power since the Fukushima accident. (Full Article)