The history and current situation of Chinese and Japanese nuclear technology
Nuclear technology is the newly developed technology. It can be applied in multiple directions such as nuclear energetic, nuclear medicine and nuclear weapon. Both China and Japan have highly developed nuclear technology and it is used to build nuclear power plant and was used to develop nuclear weapons. After the Fukushima disaster, the world start reconsidering the current situation and future invest on nuclear technology. As neighborhood countries, China and Japan government and people have some similar and some different attitudes towards nuclear technology and its appliances.
Comparing to Japan, China starts the research on nuclear technology several decades later. The first nuclear power reactor in China, the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, was issued on 1991, while the first nuclear power plant in Japan, the Tokai Nuclear Power Plant was built in the early 1960s and started generating power from 1966 until 1998, when it was decommissioned. Another nuclear power plant built on the same site as Tokai Nuclear Power Plant was still in use. During 1970s and 1980s, Japan’s nuclear industry was developing fast and was not influenced heavily by the Three Mile Island accident or Chernobyl disaster as several other countries were. Several new plants were built during that period. However, as time goes on, there are some nuclear accident happened in Japan itself which changed the public opinion regarding nuclear technology. Chinese nuclear technology is still under development and most of its nuclear plans are in the future. Currently, there are 50 nuclear reactors in Japan which provide about 30 percent of the country’s electricity. In mainland China, there are only 14 nuclear power reactors operating which only provide about 2.3 percent of the electricity of the entire country. Most of them are in or near the coastal line. From the map of Japan and China’s nuclear power plant distribution, Japan’s power plants are built in the whole country and most of them are currently active while China has more power plants under construction or planning. There are several organizations on nuclear technology in both Japan and China. Japan has a lot of nuclear power companies and organizations which include a non-profit organization, an academic organization and organizations founded by government and nuclear power industry. However, most or nuclear technology organizations in China are founded and supported by the government and there exist no non-profit or academic organizations that could help inspect and supervise nuclear power companies. China was aware of that situation and realized the challenge.
After the Fukushima disaster, Chinese government temporary stopped approving any new plan for building nuclear power plant and started a safety check for all in operation and under construction nuclear power plants. It also rewrites the current regulations and guidelines for nuclear safety according to the defective part of Fukushima nuclear power plant. Any existed nuclear power plant that does not fit the new roles will be suspended. However, the public has a different attitude than Chinese government who did not show a heavily influence by Fukushima disaster. People in China are worried about the effects of Fukushima nuclear power plant to China. There are some accidents happened such as the rush for salt and wearing face masks. In Japan, the public tend to be scared by the nuclear disaster since it happened in Japan and government was acting ineffectively. However, the government of Japan decided to continue its use of nuclear energy. According to the Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan said, the energy policy of Japan will remain the same after the Fukushima disaster. He responded to the public guessing about Japan shutting down more nuclear power plant that there will be no more plants suspended except the Hamaoka plant which located on a major fault line (Fackler, 2011). The Hamaoka plant shutting down is still in considering and if closed, it will reopen after a tsunami-resistant wall being built. Currently, the residents in Tokyo are facing electricity shortage due to the close of Fukushima power plant. If Hamaoka power plant was closed, Chubu district of Japan may suffer from summer electricity shortage.
Later on, let's focus on the field of nuclear weapon. China, as you know, made its nuclear weapon in an early age. In 1964, 19 years after World War II, Chinese people got the success of nuclear test, which made China the fifth member of the World Nuclear Club. At October 27th, 1976, the Great Proletarian Culture Revolution started and the whole country falls into a terrible disaster. However, the research about nuclear weapon did not encounter any resistance. At June 17th, 1967, Chinese first hydrogen bomb exploded successfully. One month later, a special army founded in Beijing. The government of China desired to own an army that had the ability of attacking any countries on the earth. As a result, China set up this funny troop called "The Second Artillery Academy" which means they will use the strategic missile or even the nuclear weapon to hit the weakest point of an enemy. In 1976, after the end of Great Proletarian Culture Revolution, a terrible disaster to Chinese people and economy, it showed a rapidly increasing on the nuclear weapon research. Various technologies were used into the field of nuclear, such as nuclear submarine and small-size nuclear warhead. Moreover, in the foreseeable future, China will have its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. In 1996, Chinese government signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with other 60 countries and stopped to make nuclear test from then on. As for Japan, although it had a long history of developing nuclear power plant, it is not allowed to develop its own nuclear weapon because it was defeated in the World War II. It is possible but unknown that the UN will repeal this ban, which may happen in 2050, or 2010.Who TaMa knows. There exist public opinions saying that Japan has enough storage for building nuclear weapons.
Japan’s nuclear technology is more advanced than China’s. However, Japan cannot develop any nuclear weapon due to the surrender contract for WWII. In another aspect, the scarcity of resources in Japan made it has to rely on nuclear power other than fuel power as China did. Even after the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened, Japan has no other choice but continue using nuclear power, while electricity produced by nuclear power station only takes a small percentage in China and not as important as in Japan.
Facker, M, May 8, 2011, Japan Reaffirms Nuclear Energy Use, retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/world/asia/09japan.html