In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced that Japan should meet its energy needs without nuclear power plants. But his statement may have little relevance in the next administration. There is a complex power struggle underway over the future of nuclear energy in Japan involving political, governmental, industry, and union groups. Despite the seriousness of the Fukushima crisis, Japan’s historical commitment to nuclear power—and a fuel cycle that includes reprocessing and breeder reactors—still has powerful supporters. Even with a scale-down of nuclear power, there is a possibility that the policy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel will continue as a matter of political inertia.
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