In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, following an earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region, Japan has been carefully considering its energy options for the future. The use of nuclear power began here in 1970, and when I arrived in Japan in 1992 nuclear power production was responsible for almost a quarter of the country’s overall power supply.
After some of its nuclear reactors were damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the government had a rethink and Japan’s last nuclear reactor was shut down in early May 2012. However, Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture restarted two of its reactors in July, only to see them shut down again in 2013, leaving Japan without any nuclear power for the third time since its inception in 1970.
In the absence of nuclear power, the Japanese government has been scrambling to find sufficient energy resources to power the nation. Like many other nations, Japan utilizes coal, oil, natural gas and hydro power sources for its energy use, but recently it has also turned to wind farms and solar energy as alternative resources for power.