Japan faces many challenges as the 21st century progresses, including the ongoing aging of its society, which will see 25% of the country aged 65 or older within this decade. But to my mind, the biggest challenge Japan faces is a total lack of leadership. Japan recently switched off its last nuclear power plant and is currently without nuclear-generated sources of power for the first time since 1970, but this didn’t come about due to bold initiatives by Japan’s leaders sensitive to the needs of their people in the aftermath of 3/11 and Fukushima…it just sort of happened as various national and regional politicians avoided making decisions that would get them kicked out office during the next election. While opinions on nuclear power vary — it may be the best choice for a technically advanced country with no natural resources like Japan, though the real cost when centuries of storage of dangerous material are considered should be taken into account too — Japanse politicians should lead the country in a decisive way one way or the other, yet they invariably lead…nowhere. Japanese leaders are failing in other key areas, too. Japan’s consumption tax is currently 5%, but the skyrocketing costs of its changing society as well as rebuilding the Tohoku region of Japan have made it pretty clear that this rate needs to rise. Yet the ruling Democratic Part of Japan, fearful of losing power, does nothing…not raising taxes, but also not deciding what other steps it might take instead.
The future of electric power in Japan looks worrysome again.