The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 was the biggest earthquake recorded in Japanese seismic history, and the fourth largest recorded in the world. The scope of the triple disaster consisting of an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear accident, far exceeded that of the Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The repercussions of this disaster spread far beyond the geographical areas directly affected. For example, electric power supply capacity in the Kanto area, which accounts for about 40% of Japanese gross domestic product (GDP), fell at one stage by about 40% from the normal peak—a severe constraint on economic activity, and the supply of nuclear-generated electric power has largely been cut off since then. [Read more]
Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that the “process of creative destruction,” whereby new industries are created by destroying the old combinations and creating new ones, is essential to drive growth. Japan’s electric power industry finds itself at such an evolutionary crossroads.The Fukushima nuclear disaster offers Japan a chance to pull the plug on the nation’s power monopolies and put in place an energy industry that would be more efficient, innovative, environmentally friendly, and safer. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the Fukushima power plants, is a typical Japanese power monopoly. It supplies electricity to the Tokyo metropolitan area and can flex enormous market muscle as an integrated regional monopoly in the supply of electric power. [Read more]
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