Nuclear Power in Japan

Japan's nuclear power programme began in 1954 when 230 million yen was budgeted for nuclear power. The first plant began operation in 1966 in Ibaraki prefecture. Since that time, the industry has had strong government support and in 1973 nuclear power became a national strategic priority. Japan's industry was not affected as adversely as some countries by the Chernobyl accident and the Three Mile accident. New plants continued to be constructed throughout the 1980s and 1990s and up to the present day. However from the mid 1990s a string of accidents and cover-ups led to the Japanese public losong confidence in the safety of nuclear power. These accidents included the Tokaimura accident, the Mihama steam explosion and the cover-up of an accident at the Monju reactor. Due to safety concerns, protests about new plants have increased. Several proposed plants have been cancelled or frozen including plants proposed for Maki in Niigata, Kushima in Miyazaki, Ashihama in Mie and Hohoku in Yamaguchi. However, other plants continue to be built, and the government continues to support the industry. In 2008 Japan became the world's 3rd largest nuclear power user with 53 reactors providing about 30% of Japan's electricity.

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