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Japan's return to nuclear power makes the German way even more incomprehensible

Eleven years after the Fukushima reactor disaster, the Japanese government is planning to return to nuclear power.

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Japan's return to nuclear power makes the German way even more incomprehensible

Eleven years after the Fukushima reactor disaster, the Japanese government is planning to return to nuclear power. The lifespan of the nuclear power plants is to be extended and new reactors are to be built. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida argues with the consequences of the Ukraine war on the energy sector.

After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, 46 out of 50 reactors were shut down in Japan. In 2022, only ten nuclear power plants will be back on the grid in Japan and will not supply four percent of the electricity requirement. Nuclear power had lost all support. After all, the country has to pay 188 billion US dollars for the follow-up costs of the accident, and hundreds of thousands of people have had to be resettled.

It would have been understandable if Japan had turned its back on nuclear power for good. But now the country is changing course, and surveys are again showing approval for nuclear power. Is that irrational?

The Germans are fearful and rigorously sticking to the exit decision made in the Fukushima shock. Only a few weeks of "extended operation" for the last three German nuclear power plants are hesitantly considered. The federal government only allowed itself to be compelled to make this weak compromise because it is simultaneously looking into an abyss of supply shortages, inflation, the economic crisis and social upheaval.

Why is Japan less fearful? The type of energy supply is always a question of alternatives. Japan has none. The country has hardly any energy resources. Nuclear power has been replaced by imported gas and coal and some green electricity.

In the electricity mix, gas plays the main role with almost 40 percent - everything is delivered with liquid gas tankers. Japan is the world's largest LNG buyer. Now gas is becoming unaffordable because of Putin.

Tokyo's climate pledges ban increased use of coal. Power bottlenecks, voltage fluctuations in the network put the population. This also creates fear among the population. As in California, which is struggling with power outages in its energy transition, the consequence for Tokyo is: Last exit nuclear.

In Germany, the use of coal has actually been unconstitutional since a decision was made in Karlsruhe. Wind and solar power cover only seven or eight percent of the final energy demand and cause problems in the grid and in the recycling of the components. There is hardly any gas left, and hydrogen will take years to reach the market.

Japan has realized that it needs nuclear power. Germany just doesn't know yet.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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