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   hoseobyoon (2012-03-01 07:34:21 )
   ...after 2011 Nuclear Disaster

Japan's Strategic Energy Plan under Review after 2011 Nuclear Disaster   The Japanese government launched a review of its energy policies after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. I am engaged in the review process representing JFS and the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society. In this article, I would like to provide some background on the current situation and the future out look of the review. In June 2002, Japan established the Basic Act on Energy Policy in linewith three fundamental principles, called the three Es -- Energy(securing a stable energy supply), Environment (environmental sustainability), and Economy (utilization of market mechanisms). The law stipulates that the government must formulate a basic plan onenergy supply and demand, called the Strategic Energy Plan, that theMinister of Economy, Trade and Industry must formulate a draft of theplan by consulting with the heads of relevant administrative organs andthe Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, and then seek acabinet decision on the draft. The Strategic Energy Plan is to be reviewed every three years. The firstrevision was made in March 2007. The second revision made in June 2010is the current plan. Under it the emphasis is on energy security consisting of five factors:improving the ratio of energy self-sufficiency, energy conservation,diversification of energy structure and supply sources, maintenance ofthe supply chain, and improvement of emergency response capability. Thetargets set for 2030 are as follows:  (1) Double the energy self-sufficiency ratio (18% at present, includingnuclear power generation) and the domestically-developed fossil fuelsupply ratio* (26% at present), and raise the energy independence ratioto about 70 percent from the present 38 percent. *The ratio of fossil fuel supply from domestic and overseas intereststhat a Japanese company has a share in the total supply (2) Raise the ratio of energy from zero-emission power sources such asnuclear and renewable energy to 70 percent (by more than 50% in 2020) from the present 34%. For this purpose: - Build more than 14 additional nuclear plants (nine by 2020). - Raise the overall plant capacity utilization rate to 90 percent (85%by 2020) from the 60% in 2008. - Maximize the use of renewable energy. (3) Cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the residential sector byhalf. (4) Maintain and raise energy efficiency in the industrial sector to thehighest level in the world. (5) Maintain or achieve top-level shares of global markets forenergy-related products and systems.  According to the plan, the goal is to reduce domestic energy-related CO2emissions by 30 percent in 2030 compared to the 1990 level. Itsintention was to increase nuclear energy in the mix to raise Japan'slevel of energy self-sufficiency, on the assumption this would alsoenhance energy security. (Although Japan imports all the uranium itneeds for nuclear power generation, nuclear power was deemed a"quasi-domestic energy" because the government considers it possible torecycle nuclear fuel at home, if the nuclear fuel cycle is based onreprocessing used fuel and using it in fast-breeder reactors.) The government has long been using nuclear power generation as abargaining chip to prevent global warming as a zero-emission powersource that does not emit CO2 during plant operation. Meanwhile,non-governmental organizations and others have been advocating forrenewable energy as both a better energy alternative for improving theenergy self-sufficiency rate and curbing global warming. As a responseto such calls, the government said that it would make the greatestefforts to promote renewable energy, but without setting any targets.Some thought that it intended to exclude renewable energy because ithinders the promotion of nuclear power generation. The Strategic Energy Plan was originally scheduled for revision in 2013,but in light of nuclear disaster, at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'sFukushima power plant, former prime minister Naoto Kan ordered a reviewof the plan from scratch and to have it revised by summer 2012. With theMinister of State for National Policy as chair and cabinet members andothers as participants, the Energy and Environment Council was set up inJune 2011, and it decided on the following three fundamental conceptsfor revision of the Strategic Energy Plan in July 2011. (1) Basic Philosophy I: Three principles to achieve a new, best mix ofenergy sourcesPrinciple 1: Draw up a scenario of reduced dependence on nuclear energyPrinciple 2: Create a detailed and strategic schedule designed to avoidenergy shortfalls and price hikesPrinciple 3: Conduct a thorough review of nuclear power policies andoperate under a new framework (2) Basic Philosophy II: Three principles for the realization of newenergy systemsPrinciple 1: Seek the creation of distributed energy systemsPrinciple 2: Seek to make an international contribution as an advancedproblem-solving nationPrinciple 3: Take a multifaceted approach to the realization ofdistributed energy systems (3) Basic Philosophy III: Three principles for the formation of anational consensusPrinciple 1: Stimulate national discussions that go beyond arguments forand against nuclear power generationPrinciple 2: Verify objective data Principle 3: Formulate innovative energy and environmental strategieswhile maintaining national dialogue with a broad range of people Based on these basic philosophies, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission(JAEC), the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, and theCentral Environment Council were requested to prepare options for thenation's nuclear policies, energy mix, and measures to prevent globalwarming. The JAEC, composed of a chairman and four commissioners appointed by thePrime Minister with the Diet's consent, was set up under the CabinetOffice to deliberately implement national policies concerning the AtomicEnergy Basic Law and democratically manage nuclear energy policies. TheCentral Environment Council is an advisory body to the environmentminister, established in conformity with the Basic Environment Law.  The Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, created underthe Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, is an advisory panel to theMinister of Economy, Trade and Industry. The committee set up theFundamental Issues Subcommittee to formulate the new Strategic EnergyPlan. As mentioned above, I serve as a commissioner on the committee asthe chief executive of JFS and the president of the Institute forStudies in Happiness, Economy and Society. After integrating the outcome of discussions in these threeestablishments, the Energy and Environment Council is to presentcombined proposals for a range of strategic options on energy andenvironment, ensure a deepening of discussion nationally, and finalizethe scheme by this summer. The Fundamental Issues Subcommittee on Japan's energy mix, to which Ibelong, met seven times in 2011, starting in October, and morefrequently in 2012, almost every week. First, 25 members presented theiropinions on the organization of discussion points. Now, we arediscussing the themes of nuclear power, energy saving, renewable energy,and fossil fuel, and conducting hearings with energy providers topropose options for the energy mix this spring. Initially, 17 people were selected as members of the committee, consistingof only two people, including myself, who do not support the idea ofpromoting nuclear power generation and reportedly 15 people in favor ofit. This stirred up criticism from NGOs and other organizations, andconsequently more people not supporting nuclear power generation wereadded, with the committee now totaling 25 members. Though it does notcarry any voting power, it should provide an opportunity for a well-balanceddiscussion. One of the main features of the committee is that it is fully open tothe public and webcast online, which is a first for any Japanesegovernment committee. The Minna-no [Everybody's] Energy and EnvironmentConference (MEEC), as I wrote in JFS Newsletter No. 108 (August 2011),was a model of open discussion, and among 10 of its organizers werethree members, including myself, of the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee.We insisted on the necessity of it being open and webcast, and hopefullythis will continue as such an open platform. [Newsletter] Open Platform for Energy Policy Discussion Launched JFS will report on the ongoing discussions in the Fundamental IssuesSubcommittee, including the options being considered for the energy mixto be presented in the spring of 2012. I welcome the comments and opinionsfrom readers from anywhere in the world, which I will convey to thesubcommittee as feedback. Meanwhile, the subcommittee now consists of 25 members, of which onlyfour are women. In addition, most members are from older generations,meaning that most members of the subcommittee may already hold certainassumptions when listening to the voices of women and young people. A decision on the future of our nation's energy will affect every personin Japan. Regardless of differences in gender and age, down-to-earthdiscussions among a wide variety of people should be conducted, and theresults should be reflected in the process of policymaking. With thehope of collecting a broad range of views on energy, the Institute forStudies in Happiness, Economy and Society held a meeting at the end ofJanuary 2012 to consider energy issues from the viewpoint of women, incollaboration with JFS and other organizations. The purpose was toencourage women to talk frankly about energy, so that I could thenconvey their views and opinions to the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee. Over 100 women attended the meeting and actively discussed energy issues,with a focus on three questions: What viewpoints are important whenconsidering energy? What more do you need to know or what data do youneed for the informed consideration of energy policy? Is there a betterway to develop energy policy? In discussions on energy policy, the government and associatedorganizations such as the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee and thebusiness community usually place emphasis on the economy, costs,international competitiveness, and national security. In contrast, manywomen raised additional views as important factors such as life, futuregenerations, the right to choose, and ethics. The video clip of the meeting (in Japanese) is available at: The meeting was publicly significant. It was covered by more than 10news agencies and seven officials from the Agency for Natural Resourcesand Energy -- which is the secretariat for the Fundamental IssuesSubcommittee -- and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)attended to observe and listen to the women's lively discussion. Oneofficial said, "METI is usually connected with industrial and financialcircles, so when it comes to energy we are more likely to put a highervalue on safety, supply stability, costs, and, if possible, theenvironment -- but I actually learned today that there are various otherfactors to be considered. This meeting was a valuable opportunity, and Iwould like to continue to listen to the voices of people on variousoccasions." More than 100 questions were submitted through the women's discussion on"What more do you need to know or what data do you need for an informedconsideration of energy policy?" With voluntary cooperation from theAgency for Natural Resources and Energy, I will organize the data andinformation, and then publish them as answers to these questions by thespring of 2012, when the energy-mix options are to be presented and thepublic is expected to comment. I also reported the results of the meeting, along with detailedreference documents, to the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee on February9, 2012, after summarizing the views of the women, including theiropinions, questions, and recommendations or requests concerning thepolicymaking process. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano'scomment on this was: "I looked through the attendees' opinions, whichwere full of important comments. I will make the best use of them, andcontinue listening to a variety of opinions from all walks of life toconsider new energy strategies for our country." I don't know yet whether this meeting really made any impact on theprocess of producing an energy policy, but I will continue to makeefforts in my capacity as a committee member to help develop thenational energy policy more democratically. I'm now planning the nextinitiative -- a meeting to consider energy issues from the viewpoint ofyoung people!  

Written by Junko Edahiro
In the February 2012 issue of the JFS Newsletter:

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