Still devastated by the wake of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Japan has announced it will abandon nuclear power by 2040.
The new policy would include a 40-year cap on reactor lifespans, no construction of new nuclear reactors, and strict safety checks before any reactors are restarted.
"This is a strategy to create a new future," a policy statement from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government said, after key ministers finalized the decision. "It is not pie in the sky. It is a practical strategy."
The 2011 nuclear power plant disaster – set off by a massive earthquake and tsunami – led to several hydrogen-air chemical explosions. Fears of radioactivity releases led to a 20-km radius evacuation around the plant. Japanese scientists estimate the total amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere was approximately one-tenth as much as was released during the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
At the time, Japan relied on nuclear power for one-third of its energy needs and planned to raise that to 50 per cent by 2030.