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3 years later: post-Fukushima Japanese energy vision and the world

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FukushimaToday marks the third anniversary of East Japan great earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident. Even after three years, there are still people suffering from the direct damage caused by the tragic event of earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima. Our hearts are with those who suffered and are still suffering.

When the Japanese government started the process to revise its existing energy strategy in response to the tragic event, we assumed something was going to change, because, if not, one must ask the obvious question: what would take for Japan to change the course, if THIS doesn’t cause the change.

We have been observing Japanese government struggling to produce a new energy/climate vision. The task must have been extremely hard. Yet, WWF was deeply disappointed to hear the news in Warsaw last December that the government decided to lower its ambition in emission reduction for 2020.

Now, the Japanese government is scheduled to announce its new energy strategy (it is called the Basic Plan on Energy in Japanese) by the end of this month. We are again worried to hear that the new strategy does not include ambitious targets for renewables and energy efficiency, let alone ambitious climate targets. But it still place nuclear in the heart of the strategy and continues to rely on fossil fuels… On climate front, one would be surprised to hear that there is even no discussion on the post-2020 commitments.
This cannot be the way.

WWF Japan published four reports after the Earthquake/Fukushima, which examined a possibility to achieve 100% renewables by 2050. The series of reports has shown it is possible to achieve the energy vision of 100% renewable in Japan, if massive energy efficiency improvements are done and transformative policies are implemented. An option for safe and sustainable energy future is there, which also contributes to climate safe and resilient future of the world.

Three years have passed, indeed.

The country is about to present their new energy strategy. A reasonable question to Japan would be: So, what’s changed? Unfortunately, the current draft of the new energy strategy fall short of what can be called as “innovative,” but it almost reads like de ja vu, just a continuation of business as usual.

This is simply not acceptable in the sight of those people who struggled on the ground.
This is not just about Japan. We see many government getting “frozen” in front of challenges posed by the crises like this. The way we respond to the crises like this cannot be a continuation of the past. We have been witnessing many tragic signs that climate change is approaching and the current energy system is not working. We know the climate crisis is here. But we also know we have solutions. The world only needs a political will, as does Japan.

Naoyuki Yamagishi yamagishi@wwf.or.jpis the Head of the Climate and Energy Group at WWF-Japan.

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