Restarting a Reactor in Japan
In 2011 the Fukushima nuclear power plant leaked as a result of a 9.0 earthquake, displacing roughly 160,000 people. Japan shuttered all of its reactors pending inspections and new safety requirements. Japan recovered from the atomic bombs of WWII to become a global economic powerhouse. Showing a similar resilient mindset, Japan will begin producing nuclear energy for the first time as early as Tuesday, August 11.
There is no country on the planet as deservedly wary of all things nuclear as Japan. Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima each forced Japan to re-examine itself and its role in the world hierarchy. Anxiety is understandably high as Japan looks to restart Sendai No.1, one of its 48 mothballed nuclear power plants, bringing risk of mechanical failure, operator error and another disaster.
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A Kyodo News poll in October/14 found that only 31% of Japanese were in favour of an immediate return to nuclear energy. The people do not want an “immediate” return.
But the role of leaders is to lead – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is driving this issue through the complex Japanese bureaucracy with a target of nuclear providing roughly 20% of Japan’s energy needs in 2030. He knows that Japan cannot survive long-term without independent power sources, and the only economically defensible source is nuclear. Other mothballed plants will have to come back on stream to make Abe’s plan a reality.
Japan’s reactors will need feedstock and Canada can fill that need. With close to 500,000 tonnes, the True North Strong and Free has roughly 8% of the world’s uranium resources of U3O8, in the Athabasca Basin and elsewhere. There will also be ancillary revenue from engineering, design, construction and consulting, all of which will be needed to manage Japan’s nuclear energy sector. Canada can fill those needs as well.
The laws of supply and demand, even as throttled by government and international trade agreements, should stimulate a rise in the price of uranium. This re-starting of Sendai No.1 may represent the low point in the global uranium pricing cycle.
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