Japan, Nuclear Energy, and the TPP

May 29, 2012

A little over a year since the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the shutdown of the last of the country’s 50 usable nuclear reactors. However, as the Mainichi Daily News reports, Japan will also be spending billions of dollars importing extra oil and gas to meet its energy demand, which will produce a projected 180-210 million additional tons of emissions this year.

 

Whatever economic benefits Japan has gained from nuclear energy have now been washed away with the Fukushima debris into the Pacific Ocean. With a looming trade deficit and its currency trading at its weakest against the dollar, economic recovery will “be hit hard against the background of increasing energy imports,” says Masaaki Kanno in a recent New York Times article. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy after China and the United States, has also encountered opposition from the Big Three U.S. automakers as well as by lawmakers confronting longstanding barriers to Japan’s auto and insurance markets.

When Obama met with Noda in April, the White House released a fact sheet on the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Initiative, which launched three new programs in the area of “clean energy” that employs both public/private development and deployment of clean energy technologies. In his remarks at their joint press conference, Obama thanked Prime Minister Noda for updating him on his “reform efforts liberalizing trade and playing a leading role in Asia Pacific’s economy,” and for Japan’s continued interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In addition Obama added, “that their shared vision also calls for the strengthening of energy cooperation, and discussed expanding liquid natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States to Japan.” (Read more)

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