Chief Correspondent, Political and General News
Linda's Feed
Jul 4, 2012

Reactor restarts, but Japan’s energy policy in flux

TOKYO (Reuters) – Buffeted by industry worries about high electricity costs on one side and public safety fears about nuclear power on the other, Japan’s leaders are still struggling to craft a coherent energy policy more than a year after the Fukushima disaster.

Critics say Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose top priority is raising the sales tax to curb bulging public debt, is caving in to Japan’s “nuclear village” – a powerful nexus of utilities, bureaucrats and businesses – by restarting the first of Japan’s 50 reactors to come back on line since the crisis.

Jun 29, 2012

Noda’s tax success may fail to end Japan deadlock

TOKYO, June 29 (Reuters) – After years of policy paralysis
in Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has pushed a much-needed
but unpopular sales tax hike through the lower house of
parliament, but the chances of further reform in the world’s
third-largest economy seem unlikely.

Noda, 55, is low key and likened himself to a “dojo”
bottom-feeding fish when he took office in September last year.
However, the sixth prime minister since 2006 is set to achieve a
breakthrough that has eluded several of his predecessors.

Jun 27, 2012

Populist Japan mayor grooms candidates for national stage

OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) – Gathered in a hall in the city of Osaka, about 900 students at Toru Hashimoto’s school for candidates listen raptly as the populist mayor issues a clarion call to shake up Japan’s deadlocked politics in an election that could come this year.

“It means nothing if you do not win. I don’t know when it will be, but everyone, get ready,” said a shirt-sleeved Hashimoto, wrapping up a speech in which he blasted mainstream parties, chided the media and pledged to speak for a silent majority.

Jun 16, 2012

Japan approves 2 reactor restarts, more seen ahead

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Saturday approved the resumption of nuclear power operations at two reactors despite mass public opposition, the first to come back on line after they were all shut down following the Fukushima crisis.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, his popularity ratings sagging, had backed the restarts for some time. He announced the government’s decision at a meeting with keep ministers, giving the go-ahead to two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co at Ohi in western Japan.

Jun 15, 2012

Japan PM Noda aims to reduce reliance on nuclear power

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Friday that Japan should aim to reduce reliance on nuclear power as much as possible in the medium and longer term, but stopped short of outlining a strategy for abandoning atomic energy by mid-century.

Noda has been stressing that nuclear power remains an important source of energy for the resource-strapped country, not least because of business worries about higher electricity costs if atomic energy is spurned following the Fukushima crisis, the world’s worst atomic accident in 25 years.

Jun 15, 2012

Japan to get new atomic regulatory body within 3 months

TOKYO, June 15 (Reuters) – Japan will set up a new nuclear
regulator around September under a law approved by parliament’s
lower house on Friday after months of delay as part of a drive
to improve safety and restore public trust after the worst
atomic disaster since Chernobyl.

The 2011 Fukushima disaster cast a harsh spotlight on the
cosy ties between regulators, politicians and utilities – known
as Japan’s “nuclear village” – that experts say were a major
factor in the failure to avert the crisis triggered when a huge
earthquake and tsunami devastated the plant, causing meltdowns.

Jun 8, 2012

Japan PM says two reactors must restart to protect jobs

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Friday he has decided that two idled nuclear reactors in western Japan must be restarted to protect jobs and avoid damage to the economy, adding that steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence of the Fukushima disaster.

The decision – expected to be confirmed at a meeting with key ministers – will ease worries about power shortages among firms in the region, including struggling electronics giants Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp.

May 30, 2012

Japan PM says safe reactor restarts needed

TOKYO, May 30 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko
Noda, keen to restart idled nuclear reactors to avoid a summer
power crunch, said on Wednesday it was necessary to start those
whose safety has been confirmed, adding he was winning
understanding from local authorities.

Nuclear power supplied nearly 30 percent of Japan’s
electricity needs before last year’s earthquake and tsunami
cripped the Fukushima plant – the world’s worst nuclear accident
in 25 years. But all of the country’s 50 reactors have since
been taken offline for checks.

May 29, 2012

Japan starts atomic watchdog debate, reactor decision nears

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s parliament began a debate on Tuesday about plans for a new nuclear watchdog, raising hopes of a compromise after months of political bickering that has postponed a tightening of industry oversight after the Fukushima crisis.

The push to create a nuclear regulatory agency is part of Tokyo’s efforts to allay public concerns about safety as it nears a decision on restarting some of its idled reactors, all of which have been shut down in the 14 months since Fukushima.

May 25, 2012

Japan eyes smaller nuclear role but no exit strategy

TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) – Japan is leaning toward a policy
of halving nuclear power’s share of electricity supply from
pre-Fukushima levels to about 15 percent by 2030, but will
likely stop short of pledging the long-term exit strategy that
many voters favour, experts said.

That would be a victory of sorts for a nuclear industry that
has been under fire since a huge earthquake and tsunami devasted
the Fukushima atomic plant in March 2011, triggering meltdowns
in the world’s worst radiation accident in a quarter century.

    • About Linda

      "I direct a team of reporters responsible for covering politics, diplomacy, social and security policies in the world's second-biggest economy, as well as natural disasters, entertainment and lifestyle trends. I have been in my current position since April 1999 and prior to that was Chief Economics Correspondent, Japan."
    • Follow Linda