The Case for Energy Cooperation in East Asia: Part II

The Case for Energy Cooperation in East Asia: Part II

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on East Asian energy cooperation. Part I examined cooperation in energy conservation and natural gas markets. Part II examines cooperation in nuclear energy.

Despite heightened political tensions among Japan, China and South Korea over territorial disputes in the East China Sea, Asian economic cooperation remains critical to the global economy as it struggles to return to widespread growth. Energy cooperation among these three Asian powers offers an opportunity for much-needed constructive engagement, and nowhere is this more urgent than in the area of nuclear energy.

Before the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, there were 54 nuclear reactors in Japan; all were subsequently shut down. Although it is not certain that all of the plants will return to service, most of them are likely to be restarted in stages following safety assessments by the newly established independent Nuclear Regulation Authority; Japan’s current energy plan has a goal of generating 50 percent of its power through nuclear by 2030, notwithstanding voices within Japan calling for the full elimination of nuclear power. Meanwhile, both China and South Korea are also seeking to dramatically increase their reliance on nuclear energy, with China planning to increase its nuclear generation capacity from 12 to around 60 gigawatts and South Korea from 19 to around 30 gigawatts.

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