Matthew Hulbert Wrong: Nuclear Dead in Japan

Matthew Hulbert kindly replied in a comment to my post last week about his article on the new Japanese energy strategy decision to phase out nuclear.

I never normally bother replying to anyone slightly over-animated on nukes or renewables, as you can never have a realistic debate, but I’m sorry to say this is a pretty twisted interpretation of what the original article notes – the 40 year issue is makde very very clear. The finer points can be mulled over at length (p.s. you’re way out on coal,next phase of ETS makes a french ppa very likely), but the overall take I’d stand by, this is a policy hedge, not outright closure. Most global analysis has now caught up with this take (this was drafted over a week ago).

I am pleased, since it gives me a great opportunity to exercise my skills in myth-busting, as recommended by Joe Romm’s recent book “Language Intelligence”.

The Japanese Cabinet last week approved the new “Revolutionary Energy Strategy”, which phases out nuclear.

The Japanese Cabinet last week approved the new “Revolutionary Energy Strategy”, which phases out nuclear.

Everybody repeat after me: The Japanese Cabinet last week approved the new “Revolutionary Energy Strategy”, which phases out nuclear.

The “Revolutionary Energy Strategy” was adopted on September 14.

Prime Minister Noda has made it very clear that it was approved by the Cabinet last week.

On nuclear, it makes these points:

The new strategy starts out with the desire to get rid of nuclear energy as soon as possible. The Japanese original is “原発に依存しない社会の一日も早い実現”, which would be “realize a society not dependent on nuclear energy even one day faster”.

For that to happen, it decides that no nuclear plant will be allowed to operate longer than 40 years, that only those that are decided to be safe by the Nuclear Regulation Commission will be allowed to operate, and that there will be no new plants built.

All of these points have been approved by Cabinet as long-term policy.

For anyone to assert that Japan is not serious about phasing out nuclear, like Hulbert seems to do, one needs to either misread the original strategy paper (if one is able to read it in the first place, it is in Japanese) or, in direct contradiction to what the Prime Minister said on television last week, somehow think that this has not been adopted as official policy.

Hulbert says in his comment that “most global analysis has now caught up with this take (this was drafted over a week ago)”.

Actually, I agree with him on that. Most Western media reports have got this story completely wrong, asserting in the face of a clear Prime Minister statement that this is not official policy. And many (including Hulbert) say that the original energy strategy “decides to phase out by 2040”, which it doesn’t actually do.

I expect that this myth will be repeated in the pro-nuclear community at least as obstinately as the German coal myth.

Fact is, however:

The Japanese Cabinet last week approved the new “Revolutionary Energy Strategy”, which phases out nuclear.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out how I tried to follow the advice of Joe Romm’s “Language Intelligence” in debunking this particular myth.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

4 thoughts on “Matthew Hulbert Wrong: Nuclear Dead in Japan

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