NOT IF, BUT WHEN
As a person who is not yet radioactive, I feel that the primary approach to resolving Japan's energy problems should involve lifestyle simplification and education, coupled with all-out support for research and development of alternative clean energy sources.
But then my thoughts are affected by the facts that the Japanese government, the world's longest single-party rule, is enthralled by nuclear power (a bottomless public works pork barrel), that tiny Japan has the third most nuclear power plants in the world (53, after the US and France [Addendum, July 2007: now second in the world, with 55]), that Japan is one of the most earthquake prone nations on earth and that of those 53 quietly seething nuclear facilities, 13 (and 2 in planning) are clustered together on the Japan Sea coast within a few dozen kilometers of my house. And immediately upwind of 30 million other people.
The extent to which the use of nuclear power in Japan depends on public ignorance and corporate-government callousness is apparent in these two articles:
"Of all the places in all the world where no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list.
When I asked ERC [Emergency Response Center] officials how they planned to evacuate millions of people from Shizuoka Prefecture and beyond after a Kobe-magnitude earthquake (Kobe is on the same subduction zone as Hamaoka) destroyed communication lines, roads, railroads, drinking-water supplies and sewage lines, they had no answer."
"It was clear that most Commission members were either pro-nuclear or felt that to encourage spirited discussion of basic issues like the necessity of nuclear power was not part of their mandate. After all, they had a five-year plan for Japan's nuclear power industry that they had to compile by late 2005, and since nuclear power was already providing about a third of the nation's electric power needs overall, what was the point in arguing with people who didn't want it? The result of the meeting was not a lighthearted farce, but something that looked as rigged as a pro wrestling match.
And so it was. Just a few weeks later, on November 12th, the Atomic Energy Commission released an interim report on nuclear fuel recycling and concluded that it should go forward. Virtually none of the facts presented by the anti-nuclear activists were acknowledged. But when it comes to Japan's nuclear power industry, inconvenient facts often do not matter."
Am I glowing yet?