One year ago it still seemed unlikely, but now Japanese government actually unveils its plans for a nuclear phase out in the 2030s. In June 2012, we decided to end our documentary Radioactivists on optimistic terms, hoping that the anti-nuclear protests would grow bigger and bigger and eventually call the government’s attention – now, when we talk after film screenings, it’s unbelievable, even for us, how far anti-nuclear protesters got. After receiving 80.000 letters of citizens demanding the nuclear phase out, prime minister Yoshihiko Noda gives in and announces the government’s plan for a nuclear phase out. It seems almost ironic, that the politician who had been preaching the return to nuclear energy, now chooses this path to raise possibilities for his re-election.


In the past year, protests grew bigger and bigger, peaking in July, when 100.000 protester demonstrated against the relaunch of the Oi-reactors. Government’s propaganda always insisted on Japan’s dependency on nuclear power, calling a phase out impossible under these conditions. Nevertheless, with only two nuclear reactors running right now, Japan got over a hot summer without major black outs. This gives the Japanese anti-nuclear movement some encouragement, arguing that Japan can live without nuclear power.
But critics raise their voices regarding the government’s new policies: while the government supposedly wants to say goodbye to nuclear energy, it still plans to continue to recycle nuclear fuel rods. These can be used to keep up the nuclear energy supply or be represent the basic condition for the production of atomic weapons. Nuclear energy industries used to promote the nuclear cycle provided through the rod’s recovery as the endlessness of these energy supplies. Even Tepco had to realize, though, that this nuclear cycle is not feasible.

Isabel Pichler, who wrote our last blog post, also pointed out some points of critique:

“A shift from nuclear means Japan should remain the world’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and third-largest purchaser of oil to feed its power stations. Japan is also likely to increase reliance on coal.

The decision to stop nuclear energy by 2030’s seems to be good, but the new strategy also seems lacking in key details.
What we all want to know is what the government is going to do with the restarting reactors!?

Well, Noda’s decision won’t probably resolve fierce debate over whether reducing atomic power’s role will do more harm or good to the economy.
And with Noda’s Democratic Party expected to lose the general election, there is no guarantee that the next government would stand by the policy.”

But still, it is unbelievable, that the Japanese anti-nuclear movement, who got hardly any attention from Japanese and international media in spring and summer 2012, within a year, grew to such an extend, that a pro-nuclear government sees its only possibility to get re-elected in making concessions to them.

So, we’d like to conclude this post with the last words of Isabel’s statement:

“But for the moment, I really wanna say THANK YOU and WELL DONE to ALL PROTESTERS!!

NEVER GIVE UP!”

More information:

Isabel Pichler’s statement

BBC

Washington Post

Süddeutsche Zeitung (German)

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