As Japan struggles to deal with the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the government is pulling back from plans to increase the nation’s reliance on nuclear power.
As the Associated Press reports, Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced on Tuesday that Japan will drop the plan it announced last year to boost, from 30 percent to 50 percent, the amount of the nation’s electricity that comes from nuclear power. Kan said his government will “start from scratch” in planning for the country’s energy future.
Kan also said that while the nation’s energy supply has previously has been based on the dual pillars of fossil fuels and nuclear power, now the nation must add both renewable power and conservation into the mix.
Around much of the world, support for nuclear power has waned following the crisis sparked by northeastern Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which killed an estimated 27,000 people and crippled the Fukushima nuclear power, leading to mass evacuations.
As The New York Times reports, Kan’s announcement means the cancellation of plans to build 14 new nuclear plants. It also follows a call by Kan last week for Chubu Electric Power Company to temporarily close a plant that lies along a fault line about 120 miles southwest of Tokyo, by far the country’s most populous city. Chubu agreed to the order on Monday, and will install a series of earthquake and tsunami protections before reopening.
Germany also has declared a moratorium on new nuclear plants, but analysts say that the rising demand for energy in India and China will continue to give nuclear power a significant role in the world’s energy supply.
Kan also expressed remorse for his government’s role in the disaster, and said he would take a pay cut as a show of his sincerity.
“I believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted nuclear energy as national policy,” Kan said. “I apologize to the people for failing to prevent the nuclear accident.”