Fearing a public backlash at local polls, no local government in Japan would dare to re-start a reactor in their locality now.
For the article below, I interviewed scholar-activist Prof Ohashi Masaaki of Japan.
In a lesson for countries everywhere, Japan’s vibrant local democracy is sealing the fate of the country’s once-entrenched network of nuclear power plants.
After the Fukushima disaster on 11 March 2011, the nuclear energy industry in Japan came under intense public scrutiny. Japan has 54 nuclear reactors in 17 locations. Already 52 reactors (including the eight in Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station, four of which were damaged or had serious problems) have been stopped while the remaining two are coming up for periodic inspection.
Visting Japanese scholar-activist Ohashi Masaaki stresses that local government consent is essential for any reactor to be restarted. “This is the nice part of decentralisation,” says the professor of international development, NGO studies and South Asia studies at Keisen University, looking relaxed in his hotel room at the end of a whirlwind speaking tour to universities in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. “Although the central government wants to have a nuclear reactor, the local government has a right to say ‘No’.”