JAPAN | Japan drops promotion of nuclear power from 5-year science plan

Posted on July 29, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 29 July 2011

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, far left, delivers a speech in a meeting of the Council for Science and Technology Policy at his office on July 29. (Mainichi)

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, far left, delivers a speech in a meeting of the Council for Science and Technology Policy at his office on July 29. (Mainichi)

The governmental Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP) on July 29 dropped plans to expand nuclear power generation from its newest five-year science program.

The program for fiscal 2011-2015, the fourth in a series, calls for new research and development as Japan plots its future energy and nuclear power policies.

The Cabinet was originally scheduled to approve the program in March but was forced to review it due to the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, as well as the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis. The revised program is expected to be adopted by the Cabinet in late August.

The CSTP, chaired by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has added a section on “the unprecedented crisis in Japan” to the original version to call for scientific examination of the twin natural disasters and particularly the nuclear incident, and carefully and honestly release its findings to the world.

The council also vowed to actively promote scientific and technological innovation for restoration and revival as disaster-stricken regions struggle to get themselves back on their feet.

The program also recommends beefing up the safety of ports, railways and other infrastructure and strengthening disaster-prevention mechanism for public facilities.

Citing fatigue due to prolonged stays at evacuation centers and posttraumatic stress disorder caused by experience of the megaquake and tsunami, the program vowed to step up research leading to health surveys and analysis, diagnosis and treatment.

Besides the March 11 disasters and the nuclear crisis, the CSTP says the five-year program addresses the environment and health, and emphasizes promotion of technological development to solve the country’s problems. The council says it will set up a science and technology innovation strategy council to achieve this objective.

The council envisions earmarking more than 4 percent of gross domestic product for public and private sector investment in research and development over the five-year period, with the state allocating 1 percent or about 25 trillion yen.

Although the R&D investment target faced being prioritized below ongoing reconstruction efforts, it was kept in the revised program at the same amount as in the previous five-year program. Approximately 22 trillion yen was spent under the third five-year program.

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