6 April 2017
Author: Florentine Koppenborg, Free University of Berlin
The Paris climate agreement was a milestone in the fight against global warming and another sign that the world is turning away from fossil fuels. Yet Japan’s energy debate demonstrates that phasing out coal from the electricity mix and replacing it with renewable alternatives can be a political challenge.
In Japan, coal is making a stealthy comeback as contentious debates about the use of nuclear power and renewable energy capture the public’s attention.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decisively announced a restart of all 43 nuclear reactors within three years in his 2013 New Year’s address. Given Abe’s career-long pro-nuclear stance, it was no surprise when his administration resolved to retain nuclear power as a baseload power source Basic Energy Plan. In the April 2015 Energy Mix 2030 document, the Abe administration adopted the specific numerical target of generating between 20 and 22 per cent of the electricity supply from nuclear reactors by 2030.