05/30/2013 - 16:18

Nuclear policy responses to Fukushima: Exit, voice, and loyalty

M. V. Ramana

A physicist, Ramana is currently appointed jointly with the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and...

In the two years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents, countries around the world have responded to the Japanese catastrophe in a variety of ways. Broadly speaking, these policy responses fall into three categories: Within one group, countries have decided to turn away from nuclear power, either through a gradual phase-out or by abandoning plans for programs that had not yet begun. In the second group of countries, government leaders who were otherwise inclined to continue pursuing nuclear power were forced by protests and public opinion to change their policies. And in the third group, countries have reiterated their commitment to nuclear power. The author describes examples of countries within each of these categories. He identifies several common elements that seem to be at play in countries that are staying the course on nuclear power, including: hasty dismissals by government officials of the Fukushima accident’s applicability to their own countries, pronouncements about the safety of deployed or proposed reactor designs, propaganda campaigns, international financing for reactor construction, and an emphasis on projected growth in energy demand.