On March 11, 2011, an earthquake in Northeastern Japan sparked a cascade of failures at the Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Three of the four reactors there suffered catastrophic meltdown and subsequent explosions, littering the landscape with radioactive fallout. Amid public outcry against nuclear power, all fifty of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down. Eventually, two plants were restarted, but the rest remain dormant.
The new Nuclear Regulation Authority [NRA] says it is going to need more time to inspect and restart the other 48 reactors, more than the three years that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had set. Abe’s government has said it will take more than ten years to decide how to power the country, and that the zero-nuclear plan of the previous regime hasn’t been decided on.
In any case, even though nuclear power used to supply some 30% of the Japan’s energy needs, public support has hit rock bottom since the Fukushima disaster. Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is also responsible for energy policy, said in a press conference, “We will rely on the NRA to judge safety from an expert point of view and will not restart ones [nuclear reactors] as long as safety is not confirmed.” [italics mine]