Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Fumio Kishida’s great nuclear leap

By Kelly Kimball

23 Sep 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

With energy prices across the globe soaring, Japan's prime minister is attempting to reengage with nuclear as an energy source. This article address the nation's nuclear trauma.

A decade ago, the Great East Japan earthquake became a three-fold disaster: A 9.0-magnitude seismic thrust from the Pacific Ocean flatlined more than 120,000 buildings, a 128-foot rush of tsunami waves battered Japan’s eastern coastline, and Fukushima’s 860-acre Daiichi power plant all but collapsed. The ordeal would result in the most expensive natural disaster in history. 

Once the waters receded, so did Japan’s appetite for nuclear power, which before then had made up 30 percent of its power mix. But Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may be turning over a new leaf. He is revitalizing a suite of dormant nuclear reactors shut down since the disaster and investing billions of dollars into next-generation nuclear technology. It’s part of a plan to put nuclear reactors back in the resource- and energy-hungry country’s mix. Kishida wants to boost the share of fission from the paltry 5 percent share it had in 2020 to 22 percent by 2030. 

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