Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation series
Edited by Larry Kreiser, Ana Yábar Sterling, Pedro Herrera, Janet E. Milne and Hope Ashiabor
Chapter 14: Fueling meltdown: nuclear tax and subsidy in Japan
The nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant caused by the ‘unforeseen’ earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 uncovered the real hazards of atomic power. Before this accident, the majority of Japanese people believed in the necessity and safety of nuclear power because of the ‘myth of absolute safety’ cultivated by the ‘Nuclear Village’, the iron quadrangle of nuclear politicians, bureaucrats, businesses and academicians. Unlike ordinary citizens, however, the power companies, nuclear manufacturers, insurance companies, and the government never actually believed in the myth of nuclear safety. They were already aware of the huge potential likelihood of nuclear disaster, especially in the Japanese archipelago, where more than 10 percent of the earthquakes in the world occur. Furthermore, the government had introduced a number of laws to reduce investment risks and to skimp on safety costs. These laws were designed to mitigate liability, to officially endorse the safety of power plants, and to soften local resistance with subsidies. Without those policies, the establishment and continuation of the nuclear power industry would have been impossible.
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