Following a summer of protests over the safety of nuclear power—prompted by last year’s Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis—the Japanese government recently released a much-awaited energy strategy. The new plan from the governmental Council on Energy and the Environment called for a “zero-nuclear” Japan, phasing out all nuclear power by the year 2040. However, the Japanese Cabinet abstained from fully endorsing the zero-nuclear option, and a small number of new nuclear reactors remain under construction. Obscured by an array of competing priorities and economic, political, and energy security considerations, Japan’s energy future seems unclear.
On October 5, the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies (CNAPS) and the Energy Security Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion on Japan’s energy future, including the shifts in Japan’s energy policymaking, the different energy scenarios for Japan and the challenges of developing alternative sources of renewable energy. Panelists also addressed the implications of a nuclear phase-out for Japan’s export industries, global energy markets, climate change goals, and trade in liquid natural gas.