My Thoughts on the Nuclear Incident and Energy Policy Reform

*This blog post is a serious one, so please skip it if you are expecting a fun story.

Photo from Energy Tribune

When I started this blog, I promised to talk about my perspective on Japan's changing energy policy, given the nuclear accident back in March. As many of you know, I am an energy policy expert who grew up and have work experience on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, so I was hoping to share my views not only on the accident per se but also on the handling by the media and its long-term implications.

I do however apologize to those of you who were interested in my thoughts, because I now have to refrain from talking about it on a public domain like this. Since I started working for my current employer, I am deeply and professionally involved in the ongoing energy policy reform in Japan, and the situation is becoming more and more complex and politically touchy everyday. I am excited to be a part of such historic reform, but it is also frustrating not to be able to share my thoughts.

The only thing I can say here is that a simple rule of thumb applies to energy policy: this is not a black or white issue. Every energy source has pros and cons, ranging from the cost to safety, reliability, the environment, and national security. What we need to have is the right mix of them. We are obviously not anywhere near that point, given the threats from climate change, and no one really even knows where that point is for sure.

From ancient times, the media tends to focus on very assertive, sometimes extreme views and opinions, and the experts who know the issue best often can't be so assertive that their views are buried by the media. In the time of crisis and uncertainty, such tendency only gets stronger because people want to know a simple answer. So, I would urge you to always critically and comparatively challenge what experts are saying on the media, and to be careful when they start simplifying the issue and giving you a definitive answer.


Recent Updates!

I'm sorry for not making new blog posts in the past several weeks. I wasn't too busy but thought few people reads this blog, so I wasn't really motivated to continue this blog. But I was apparently wrong! Several friends told me that they do read this blog and were disappointed to see the same old post for a month, so I decided to resume blogging!!! Let me talk about my new neighborhood today, and I will talk about my job in a week or two. ww

By now, I am settled at my new apartment in Ginza. It's actually a very good apartment built as a condominum. and I am probably very lucky to find this place at this rent. Its kitchen is however obviously too small for someone who likes to cook, and it gets a bit noisy occasionally. The apartment itself is very quiet, much quitter than my expectation, but the neighborhood gets a bit noisy on Friday nights. Surprisingly to most of my friends in Seattle, my bed time actually shifted to midnight from being "too early for a yound man", so the noise hasn't become a serious concern yet.

Since my job hasn't killed me yet, I do get to enjoy walking around my neighborhood on weekend. I live in the transition area between a VERY busy commercial area of Ginza and a VERY old area called Shintomicho (新富町). I walk through the commercial area to get to work, so unless I have something to do in Ginza, I normally head down to the old neighborhood for adventure.

There are lots of antique buildings in the neighborhood, and some of them were probably built centuries ago. Many of them have been owned and occupied by the same owners, mostly small restaurants and craftman's shops like sword shops and kimino shops. I wouldn't call the area beautiful, but it is something we need to pass onto the next generation.

After passing this neighborhood, there is the largest fish market in the world, called Tsukiji (築地). The fish market itself is for professional sellers and buyers only, but there are lots of tiny restaurants and street vendors selling fresh fish around the market. You can have a rice bowl with raw fish for reasonable price (see the picture), or you can buy a bunch of crabs, fishes, seaweeds etc at surprising price, so this is one of the must-go places in Tokyo. If you have a chance to visit Japan, please make some time to visit there!