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The March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was flooded by the giant tsunami eight years ago, have not only changed the lives of tens of thousands of people in its vicinity, but also the energy landscape in Japan and the rest of the world. The massive extra costs of safety investments following the disaster made nuclear power more expensive and less competitive as a source of energy — in contrast to the growing use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, which has made them more cost-competitive. It should be examined again whether the government’s energy policy since 2011 adequately reflects the post-Fukushima reality and is a feasible path for the future.

The changes have doomed Japanese companies’ overseas nuclear power business. The collapse of Westinghouse Electric Co., the U.S. nuclear power unit of Toshiba Corp. — due to cost overruns and delays in its construction of nuclear power plants in the United States — and subsequent losses threw Toshiba itself into a financial crisis. In the face of declining domestic demand, the government promoted the export of nuclear power plants by Japanese makers. However, Hitachi Ltd. has effectively given up its plan to build two reactors in Britain, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is similarly expected to withdraw from its project in Turkey as costs balloon from the initial estimates.

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