Japan’s government has performed a major U-turn on nuclear energy, saying it will stop using atomic power stations by the 2030s.
All but two of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors are currently shut-down for safety checks after the Fukushima plant was swamped by last year’s tsunami, causing the world’s worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
The unpopular government of Yoshihiko Noda had faced robust lobbying from the country’s main business federation to keep atomic power, saying a return to fossil fuels will increase manufacturing costs.
The government reckons that abandoning nuclear now would cost the country almost 31-billion euros in extra fuel imports.
Before Fukushima, the controversial technology accounted for nearly a third of Japan’s electricity, and official policy then was to push that up to more than half.
Now, by applying the strict 40-year reactor lifespan, most will close over the next two decades.
It will bring Japan into line with countries like Germany and Switzerland which also shunned nuclear power after last year’s Fukushima crisis.