It's a shame that terrible disaster had to be the cause of extreme public outrage against nuclear power in Japan, but it is the fact. As last nuclear reactor began switching off yesterday, Japan will, for the second time since the Fukushima disaster, be without operating nuclear power plants.
Yesterday, the Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) started to take offline the No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in the western prefecture of Fukui for an inspection. The reactor was expected to come to a complete stop early Monday morning. Amid strong public hostility towards nuclear power there is still no scheduled date for the restart.
Previously, Japan was without nuclear energy in May 2012, when all of the country's 50 nuclear reactors stopped for checkups. That was the first time in 40 years that Japan was without nuclear power. Since the disaster in March 2011, Japan has turned to fossil-fuel alternatives, and though prime minister Shinzo Abe has openly supported a return to the widespread use of atomic energy, the public remains largely opposed.
But since the winter is coming the power utilities are asking for restart of nuclear power plants in order to, as they explain, maintain stable supply.
Environmental groups oppose and call the country to seize the opportunity of being without nuclear power to focus on promoting renewable energy.
"Having zero running nuclear reactors is proof that we do not need nuclear plants. Going without nuclear energy for the second time is a major opportunity for Japan to become a leading nation for renewable energy," Junichi Sato, executive director of Japan's Greenpeace, said.
While Fukushima is still heavily bleeding its radioactive waste into ocean, it is the right time to focus on clean energy inventions that can generate enough power to solve the growing demands of not just Japan, as the third strongest economy, but of the whole world.