In an effort to prevent power outages this winter, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida asked that as many as nine of the country's nuclear reactors be brought online.
Earlier today Bloomberg reported that Kishida is expecting the shortage because of extreme weather as well as delays in opening other nuclear power stations. That's in addition to Japan's decision to use fewer energy sources from Russia as it continues its bloody invasion in Ukraine.
Nuclear power is a fraught topic in Japan. Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the country had as many as 54 nuclear reactors supplying around 30 percent of the country's energy demands. According to Bloomberg, if the nine reactors Kishida wants to come online actually do so, they could generate as much as 10 percent of the nation's energy needs.
That doesn't mean people are super thrilled just yet.
"Uh oh," one Twitter netizen said today of the news, recalling controversy over the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Experts, too, are torn on whether Japan's nuclear plans are really that bad. Chris Bataille, an energy expert with Columbia University's center for global energy policy, said Japan is acting just in time. He also suggested that proper safety precautions alone could prevent future disaster.
"Japan turns the corner in time, hopefully," Bataille said online today. "Keep your large, legacy nuclear reactors that are running safely open until new clean generation can be built."
Still, not everybody is convinced post-Fukushima regulations are enough to protect people and the environment. Jon Wolfsthal, a former presidential nuclear advisor, was far more skeptical of the news.
"Japan still has no plan for how to handle massive amounts of radioactive spent fuel and accumulating plutonium from reprocessing," Wolfsthal said online today. "Some will laud this step as a sign of nuclear renaissance, but solutions continue to elude us in the real world."
Given that Japan recently gave the all-clear for "treated" nuclear waste to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean, Kishida's request is certainly worth some of the skepticism. But it's also worth mentioning that the government is fining four former executives responsible for part of the 2011 disaster billions of dollars — some small steps toward accountability.
Let's hope the country finds the right balance, getting the energy it needs without more disaster.
Updated to adjust context around the Fukushima disaster.
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