Mika Ohbayashi, director Renewable Energy Institute, Tokyo

"We no longer require nuclear energy"

Mika Ohbayashi is the director of the Renewable Energy Institute, founded in 2012. Founded by a billionaire, it's the first lobbying organisation, which doesn't use any government funds, that is committed to promoting renewable energy.

70 Megawatt Solar Power Plant Kagoshima Nanatsujima

"Japan is in a race to catch up when it comes to renewable energy. Since a feed-in tariff for renewable electricity was introduced in the summer of 2012, the number of projects has increased more than fivefold. The focus is on photovoltaics, with over 90 per cent. With energy savings and solar energy, it was possible to compensate for half of the production of the last two nuclear reactors, which were shut down in August 2013. But we still have a long way to go. In fact, the share of renewable energy in the total energy production is only at 8 per cent, almost half comes from hydropower. Despite the boom, photovoltaics is a little over one per cent, and wind power in one of the windiest countries in the world is marginal at best. Japanese simply relied on nuclear energy for far too long, even when it was actually clear since the turn of the millennium that we are dealing with an outdated model. Japan's major electricity companies have neatly divvied up the market with the state's approval. Each one is limited to its region, and no one hurts the other. The result is that the capacity of the transmission lines is far too low to transport electricity from the wind-rich north to the industrial metropolitans of the south. Even within the regional electricity networks, capacity is so limited that several companies are stepping on the breaks and refusing access to small-scale solar power plants and solar microgeneration. This obstructionist policy is too  unwise even for lawmakers. Liberalisation of the electricity market is planned for 2016 to  force the monopolists into action given that Japan has the potential to achieve an energy transition with renewable energy, just as Germany is doing with impressive results. In the long term, by around 2050, we will be able to produce our electricity solely from renewable energy. We expect that by 2030 alone, around one third of our current electricity needs will no longer be necessary thanks to rigorous energy savings. Until then, 40 per cent of the electricity can come from renewable sources. The remaining requirements could be temporarily covered by highly efficient gas power plants until sufficient renewable capacity is built up. We no longer require nuclear energy for this purpose. Meanwhile the government forces the cost issue and uses a study from the government-affiliated Institute of Energy Economics to paint a gloomy picture on the wall. It argues that a nuclear phase-out would not only give rise to enormous costs, but also hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost. If I may say, that is pure propaganda for the nuclear industry."

Who we are

Founded in 2012, the Association for Sustainable Journalism on the Internet is committed to high-quality, independent on-line journalism that stands the test of time. The association promotes and runs journalistic websites dedicated to topics that are hardly covered any more in conventional media. Its members include journalists, photographers, designers and web designers.

Pressbüro Seegrund, which was founded in 1989, is firmly established in the media landscape. Its focus is on feature reports, reportage and non-fiction books. It has launched a number of online magazines in recent years including www.alpenmagazin.org, www.mangel-und-moral.org, and the latest creation: www.mensch-und-atom.org.


Association for Sustainable Journalism in Internet,
Neugasse 30,
CH-9000 St. Gallen


Pressebüro Seegrund,
Neugasse 30, PO Box 445,
CH-9004 St. Gallen,
Tel. +41(0)71 671 10 73,


Website design and programming:
Eveline Arnold Ukaegbu, Proclamation,
Zypressenstrasse 138,
CH-8004 Zürich,


English translation:
Elana Summers


Russian translation:
Alexej Scherbakov


Local interpretors: Galina Kovalch (Belarus),
Irina Gasanova (Ukraine), Chikako Yamamoto (Japan)


Martin Arnold, freelance journalist, author and media entrepreneur for the past 30 years
Urs Fitze, freelance journalist, reportage on politics, the economy, science, travel and the environment" target="_blank">www.seegrund.ch,



Our Aim

Without provoking or causing a scandal, www.society-and-the-atom.org wants to shake things up a bit by encouraging society to reflect on a subject that affects all of us: nuclear power. It is a subject that polarises, turning opponents and supporters into ideologues. And it is a subject that divides the informed and the uninformed in a way that creates intentional and unintentional dependencies. Against the background of the current debates on the 'energy transition', we want to contribute a critical discussion for all those who want to more know about nuclear power. And we want to do our bit to overcome the deep ideological divide that separates supporters and opponents. When it comes to this subject, the truth very quickly becomes relative – or is made relative. You move around in an area where experts, opinion makers, ideologues, affected persons, victims, lobbyists, politicians and world saviours jostle against each other. Everyone should be able to have their say, to tell their truth. The truth of the radiation victims as well as that of the power plant operators, the supporters and the opponents. The second objective of the book is to explore the many facets of truth – and remain receptive to all those who want to make it comfortable for us.

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