Review: Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World


Review by Maggie Gundersen, President

Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World is a little paperback published November 1, 2011 by Vermont author Mark Pendergrast.   

Japan was at a crucial tipping point in its energy paradigm when Mark first wrote this book after the March 2011 triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. Currently, Japan imports all of its fossil fuel and can no longer rely upon nuclear power, following the massive Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power tragedy.

Prior to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power tragedy, Mark was awarded an Abe Fellowship for Journalists to visit five out of 13 so-called Eco-Model Cities, and shortly after the nuclear disaster, he traveled to “Japan to investigate Japan's renewable energy, Eco-Model Cities, food policy, recycling, and energy conservation, expecting to find innovative, cutting edge programs.”

“I figured that because the Japanese import virtually all of their fossil fuel and are technologically sophisticated, that they must be doing innovative things with renewable energy,” Mark has said.

Mark says he discovered that he was naive. Even though “the Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities… they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel …live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food.”  

Like Mark Pendergrast, we at Fairewinds Energy Education had hoped that the massive tragedy of a triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi would become the Tipping Point for Japan.  Arnie and I envisioned that by now the technological and entrepreneurial Japanese would lead the world in the innovative use of Small Modular Renewables, wave production technology, and larger innovative solar and wind installations.  Instead, Germany, under the leadership of the physicist and once pro-nuclear Chancellor Angela Merkel, has taken world leadership in renewable energy and therefore has the strongest economy in Europe.  Look at this week’s news clips to see that even oil rich Saudi Arabia is grabbing renewable energy with both hands in an effort to maintain a rich energy portfolio as world demand for oil, gas, coal, and nuclear continues to decline.

Watch Fairewinds Energy Education’s video Fukushima Decommissioning: Follow The Money to see how politics and money continue to push nuclear power and block Japan’s economic growth and what could have been world dominance in renewable energy.  Then read Mark’s book Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World to further understand what futures are still possible for Japan.