Japan should keep its energy options open and avoid a full withdrawal on atomic power, according to head of the international nuclear projects at international law firm Pillsbury.

As the Japanese government nears a decision on the future make-up of its power mix in the wake of last year’s disaster at Fukushima, George Borovas said it should not “make any long-term commitments at this stage”.

“Energy policy requires long-term and strategic thinking and planning,” he said. “It is crucial to appreciate the long-term benefits of setting a clear, consistent and sustainable energy strategy, which will be felt for generations.”

Borovas said developing a new nuclear programme “goes beyond the building of electricity-producing units”. 

“A country, in essence, develops a whole new industry, with a 100-year, multi-generational and society-wide commitment. Japan has significant nuclear power plant fleets and must recognise that replacing such plants with other energy sources may have a significant impact on the environment, as well as their own short-term and long-term economic and national security.”  

He warned that Japan’s people and industry “have come to expect an affordable and reliable supply of electricity. Over 30 per cent of Japan’s electricity supply comes from nuclear power and it should be recognised that every energy source, from wind power to shale gas, has risks that must be weighed including safety, materials, acquisition/extraction, environmental impact, reliability and cost.”