News / Asia

Japan Unveils Plan to Phase Out Nuclear Energy by 2040

VOA News
Japan has unveiled a plan to completely phase out its use of nuclear power over the next three decades as part of a revamped energy policy following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The plan announced Friday by a Japanese Cabinet panel represents a major shift in the government's stance on nuclear power, which once produced one-third of the resource-poor country's electricity.

Though it calls for shutting down all of Japan's nuclear reactors by 2040, the plan also proposes that reactors found to be safe could be restarted to ensure a reliable electricity supply.

All but two of the 50 working nuclear reactors in Japan went offline in May for safety checks. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government has faced protests by those calling for an immediate end to nuclear power following the deadly nuclear disaster 18 months ago.

The Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan was destroyed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11 of last year, triggering a partial meltdown and releasing potentially dangerous radiation over a wide area.

After Fukushima, many in Japan have questioned whether - in the face of unpredictable natural disasters - nuclear power can ever be developed economically or managed safely.

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