June 21(Tuesday)

"The next era" (5): Looking at the current reality as we also look to the future


Energy policies centered on nuclear power have become major political issues both internationally and domestically. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda is attending the IAEA's Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety now underway in Vienna, where international safety standards for nuclear power plants are the subject of extensive discussions. I consider it desirable to formulate sound international safety standards, centered on the IAEA.


The other day, Minister Kaieda urged a restart of operations at the various nuclear plants currently shut down for regularly-scheduled maintenance and so on, given the results of the "implementation of urgent safety measures" and "rigorous evaluations conducted through on-the-spot inspections." This is based on the judgment that "the electrical power supply and demand critical for reconstruction from the earthquake disaster and for the revitalization of the Japanese economy will be heavily strained" unless they are able to be restarted.  In no way does this mean "we have returned once more to the path of the past few decades of promoting nuclear power." I myself have also had the intention to promote renewable natural energies over the past 30 years.


Mountain climbers earnestly striving to reach a mountain peak proactively choose a roundabout climbing route when it is difficult to advance directly towards the peak.  The essential point is not "taking risks to climb directly forward," but rather "being certain to arrive at the peak." The flag at the mountaintop which I am seeking has not changed.


What will be necessary in aiming to reach this peak without fail is "technology."  Japan is a treasure house of technological innovations unrivaled anywhere in the world, including in the area of solar energy "quantum solar cells" having three times the conventional power generating efficiency, as well as "lithium air batteries" expected to function at ten times the conventional capacity.  Actively embracing the lessons of the current TEPCO Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, both the public and private sectors should undertake full-scale efforts for further research and development, working vigorously towards the furtherance of renewable natural energies.


In working towards "the next era," one step forward for policies that generate such movement in a realistic manner will be the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies, which I wrote about in my previous blog entry. The passage of this bill in the current Diet session is a major issue.

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