Yesterday, Japan reactivated one of its 48 nuclear reactors on the island of Kyushu, four years after the Fukushima disaster to the north. While the activation means more power can be generated, it also brings great risks as well.
Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan got roughly 30% of its power from the nuclear reactors throughout the country but after the meltdown, all of the reactors were shut down over the safety concerns. In doing so, Japan increased its import of fuels to cover the needs of the country. Japan doesn’t have the natural fossil fuel resources to make up for the lost nuclear power so its had to rely on foreign countries for its power needs.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed the need to reactivate the reactors to get the economy going once again, but many in Japan are against the move. Many fear the country has not done enough to protect the reactors against another major earthquake and fear another disaster could occur. Fukushima is still an ongoing issue and there have been a lot of problems in the attempts to clean up the mess. TEPCO and the Japanese government have made a lot of mistakes and mishandlings in the clean up process, leading to more anger by the Japanese people and Abe’s decision.
Its an interesting dilemma the Japanese are facing. On one hand, the country needs more energy to help their economy out and without importing tons of coal and other fuels, they need the reactors. But on the other hand, after seeing the crisis at Fukushima and the inability for the Japanese government to clean it up, many fear what could happen when another earthquake hits. Are the reactors safe enough to reactivate? Could they withstand a tsunami or would there been another Fukushima to deal with?
It’s a delicate balance that the Japanese government and people must find a solution to moving forward.