The Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011 was a turning point for Japan’s nuclear energy and overall energy policy. In reality, Japan has reduced its dependence on nuclear energy drastically despite the government’s policy to maintain nuclear energy as a major power source. Even with sharp drop in production from nuclear energy, Japan could achieve carbon reduction of around 60–70% by 2050 even without nuclear power. But the biggest impact of the Fukushima accident is the loss of public trust. The policy debate on nuclear energy is now divided between “pro” and “anti” of nuclear power. The aim of this study is to analyze why such “polarized debate” has not been resolved and find a way to restore public trust. This study analyzes three important nuclear energy policy issues, i.e., decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spent nuclear fuel and waste management, and plutonium stockpile management. The analysis of these three cases suggest that lack of independent oversight organizations is a common cause of impasse of nuclear energy policy debate. The author argues that Japan needs to establish independent oversight organizations in order to gain public trust and solve important policy issues regardless of the future of nuclear energy.
Part of the book: Energy Policy