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No.22
Science, No.22  Jun. 28, 2014

Three Years after the Earthquake and the Nuclear AccidentWhere Energy Policies Will Go from Here — A Conversation about the Basic Energy Plan

Ueta Kazuhiro, Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University

[Introductory notes by the Editorial Department of Science Journal Kagaku] The Basic Act on Energy Policy stipulates the formulation of the Basic Energy Plan (a basic plan for energy supply and demand). In formulating the Plan, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry is asked to listen to the opinions of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, an advisory council for the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Subcommittee on Basic Policies presented Opinions on the Basic Energy Plan (hereinafter referred to as the “Opinions”) to the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy on December 13, 2013. The secretariat for the Advisory Committee had suddenly submitted the Opinions during a Committee meeting on December 6, 2013. Even though the Opinions were still a proposal, public comments on them were sought from that ... ... [Read more]

No.11
Science, No.11  May. 20, 2012

PUTTING GEOLOGICAL RECORDS TO USE IN PREVENTING TSUNAMI-RELATED DISASTERS – CURRENT STATUS OF AND ISSUES IN TSUNAMI SEDIMENTOLOGY

Tsunami sediment research has garnered substantial attention since the tsunami triggered by the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami (“2011 tsunami” hereinafter). This is because the 2011 tsunami was possibly a recurrence of the 869 AD Jogan tsunami that was a topic of sedimentology research for the last 20-plus years1. We know for sure that tsunami sediment (composed of various sizes of particles ranging from clay and sand to large boulder2) is effective for estimating when a past tsunami occurred and its size, and is potentially the only and critical proof for tsunami that occurred from prior to the Edo Period (1603-1868 AD) dating back to prehistory, for which historical records are especially thin. Yet tsunami sedimentology is... [Read more]

No.8
Science, No.8  Nov. 25, 2011

Space Exploration: Making Space Accessible to All

Nakasuka Shinichi

An astrometric satellite calledNano-JASMINE will be launchedin 2013  from the Alcantara Launch Center in Brazil, with the aim of precisely mapping the position of approximately 200,000 stars across the sky. Developed as part of a joint project between the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the University of Tokyo (Todai), Shinshu University and Kyoto University,Nano-JASMINE is a nanosatellite weighing just 35 kg. In spite of its small size however, there is nothing modest about its mission. It is designed to precisely map the three-dimensional position of approximately one million stars across the sky. Pinpointing the position of stars will help us to understand the distribution and movement of dark matter, which in turn should hopefully provide an insight into the structure and history of space itself. Twenty-two years ago, in 1989, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a 1.4-ton satellite calledHipparcos with the same ... ... [Read more]

No.8
Science, No.8  Oct. 6, 2011

BEYOND THE AGE OF ENERGY MYTHS – CONDITIONS FOR "GRADUATING" FROM THE NUCLEAR AGE

Many “myths” and little new information Many citizens have maintained an uncertain attitude that: “Nuclear power is dangerous and we want to stop using it, but can we do without it?” This thinking persists even today. Yet surprisingly, we have never had sufficient information on technology, economy or foreign cases that help us find an answer. This is why at the Subcommittee on Energy Alternatives of the Science Council of Japan we set out to gather information that could provide answers to address this uncertainty. During our studies we found a great many “myths” in all areas. Or perhaps I alone had simply been too ignorant. First, above all, we found that... [Read more]

No.6
Science, No.6  Jul. 29, 2011

THE FUKUSHIMA GENPATSU SHINSAI (EARTHQUAKE-NUCLEAR COMBINED DISASTER)

A failure resulting from reckless disregard Our positions on the issue of earthquakes and nuclear power plants in the Japanese archipelago differ significantly, depending on how we see the present “Fukushima genpatsu shinsai.” Here, the “Fukushima genpatsu shinsai” refers to a catastrophe unprecedented in human history, a combination of almost the Japan’s worst earthquake and tsunami disaster caused by the great off-Tohoku earthquake of March 11, 2011 with a magnitude (M) of 9.0 on the Richter scale, and a large-scale radioactive leak accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO). It is not the worst picture that the author had in mind when he proposed the term and concept of gempatsu shinsai (referring to an earthquake-nuclear combined disaster) [1. For English reference of gempatsu shinsai, see... [Read more]

No.6
Science, No.6  Jul. 27, 2011

PLANETARY EXPLORATION IN DEEP SPACE IS A FIELD IN WHICH JAPAN CAN MAKE AN INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTION.

Developing & producing national rockets becoming more difficult Japan may have adopted science and technology as an area of national interest after WWII, but in the field of space development, its future hardly looks bright. In fact, unless we fundamentally revise our space strategy, Japan may eventually become a second-rate nation in this area. Employment in the national space science industry, which encompasses rockets and satellites, has consistently declined since peaking in 1995, and about fifty companies have withdrawn from the market in the last several years. This has made it more difficult to supply the parts necessary to develop and manufacture the H-IIA rocket. Japan is rapidly losing what we call “The ability to travel space on our own” or “The ability to operate in space”–meaning the national capacity to launch rockets and satellites with fully national parts and under national... [Read more]