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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 29 - June 4  > Japan should drastically shift to renewable energy
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2019 May 29 - June 4 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Japan should drastically shift to renewable energy

June 3, 2019
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Measures to tackle global warming has become a major matter for the international community. More and more countries and regions are accelerating their efforts to promote and increase renewable energy, which will play a key role in realizing a post carbon society. However, the Abe government in its energy policy still sticks to using nuclear power and coal-fired thermal power plants, lagging far behind globally in the promotion of renewables.

Green energy is rapidly growing. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that the percentage of renewable electricity output, including solar and wind energy, will increase from the current 20% to 64% in 2050 as fossil fuels are becoming less popular, according to the May 18 issue of the weekly business magazine Toyo Keizai. Costs for renewable power generation have gotten lower and the clean energy industry is attracting investment worldwide as a rapidly growing industry. This makes a sharp contrast to nuclear power generation, costs of which went up significantly after the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

State support for nuclear power generation benefits large corporations. On the other hand, the green energy industry has more links to local economies. Small- and medium-sized firms in local communities can play important roles in running green energy plants, which will stimulate local economies.

Last year, a powerful earthquake paralyzed a large-scale power plant in Hokkaido, resulting in a massive blackout. This incident showed the need to decentralize the operation of power grids. The promotion of natural energy sources is important also in this regard. In the first place, with its geographic and weather conditions, Japan has the potential to boost such energy sources.

In addition, renewables create far more jobs than nuclear power does. In 2010, a year before the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, 46,000 were working to operate around 50 nuclear reactors in Japan. On the other hand, in Germany which is moving ahead with its departure from coal and nuclear power, the number of workers engaged in the renewable energy industry reached 332,000. Even in the U.S. in the same year, the number of such workers stood at 786,000 as more and more municipalities adopting renewable energy systems.

The Abe government insists that it will promote renewables as one of the main energy sources, but its target is far from ambitious. The government seeks to raise the percentage of sustainable energy outputs to 22-24% in 2030, far more modest than other countries’ targets.

Late last month, 1.8 million high school students in 125 countries across the world went on climate strike, urging each government to tackle the climate crisis head-on. The key initiator of this action is a 16-year-old high school student in Sweden, Greta Thunberg. In the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2018, she delivered a speech and said, “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.” The urgent task for government to take is to promote renewable energy and depart from the dependence on fossil fuels.

Past related articles:
> Japan needs to fulfill its responsibility to implement Paris accord rules at COP24 [December 18, 2018]
> COP24 tasked with creating rules to achieve Paris climate goals [November 30, 2018]

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