Apr 6, 2015

A Return To Nuclear May Be Japan’s Only Option

Four years after the Fukushima meltdown, Japan is finally eyeing a return to nuclear power.

To be sure, some, if not most of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors will remain offline permanently. But the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is crafting a proposal that could lead to nuclear power reclaiming about 20 percent of Japan's electricity market.

It is hard to imagine such a revival. Nuclear power made up just under 30 percent of the country's electricity generation before the catastrophic tsunami hit in 2011. Now it is at zero percent. Strict new safety standards and strong public opposition will likely keep many of the reactors on the sidelines.

But the ruling party is pressing ahead. In mid-March the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) gave the go-ahead to Kyushu Electric Power for upgrades to its Sendai nuclear power plant, removing a hurdle for the plant's return to service. Kyushu hopes to power up the reactor by June. More approvals could be forthcoming, particularly if the Liberal Democratic Party gets its way.

Related: The $6.8 Billion Great Wall Of Japan: Fukushima Cleanup Takes On Epic Proportion

Assuming that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is able to muscle through his proposal to bring nuclear back, what would that mean for Japan?

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