Entering the post-post-Fukushima era

Michiyo Nakamoto reports that Japan's new government is likely preparing the country for a U-turn on nuclear power policy:

Shinzo Abe, who took over as prime minister last month, has given a clear indication that the government is looking to build new nuclear power plants, despite widespread public reservations in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident, the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century.

“The new nuclear power plants we will build will be completely different from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant which caused the accident, and those that were built 40 years ago,” Mr Abe said in a television appearance this week.

“We are likely to build new nuclear power plants on winning the public’s understanding,” he said.

Mr Abe’s comments came after Toshimitsu Motegi, his economy, trade and industry minister, said he would re-evaluate the previous administration’s ban on building new nuclear reactors.

Across the Japan Sea, minds seem to be changing as well. The AP reports that a Chinese utility company has begun construction on a new nuclear plant in the coastal city of Rongcheng -- the first new plant since China lifted a post-Fukushima moratorium. With countries like Turkey, India, South Korea, and South Africa all planning new power plant projects, it's become pretty clear that the Fukushima disaster hasn't slowed down the global expansion of nuclear power.

One country still worth watching is Germany, which had perhaps the most dramatic reaction to Fukushima of any country other than Japan, promising an "energy revolution" to completely phase out nuclear power by 2022. Last week, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is German, told a newspaper that there would "still be nuclear power on the German network in 40 years." Environment Minister Peter Altmaier quickly responded that "I cannot see any plausible political line-up that would enable a revival of nuclear power in Germany."

But it's hard to see future governments sticking with the plan if Germany increasingly finds itself as an energy outlier while other countries get over their post-Fukushima jitters.



Wait, so John Brennan is soft on terror now?

Having done some reading on John Brennan yesterday, I'm not surprised to see criticism from the left of his appointment as CIA director. After all, back in 2008, the former Bush-era CIA official was forced to withdraw his name from consideration for the job because of concerns from the president's base over his defense of the agency's right to "take the gloves off in some areas" while interrogating terrorism suspects.

But there also seems to be an emerging case against Brennan building on right-wing blogs. Apparently, the waterboard-defending drone champion is too soft on radical Islam.

The Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper jumps on the fact that the Brennan once used the Arabic name for Jerusalem -- al Quds -- in a speech in New York. Breitbart's Kerry Picket dings him for calling "jihad" a legitimate tenet of Islam. (It is.) Powerline's Paul Mirengoff calls Brennan an "Arabist," noting that he has referred to "Palestine" and described the "beauty and goodness of Islam."

Yes, Brennan is an "Arabist" in the sense that he speaks Arabic, clearly has a strong interest in the culture, and spent years living in the region (as a CIA agent and station chief, it should be noted, not a Peace Corps volunteer). Regional experts tend not to despise the people they study. But perhaps it's only acceptable to study Arabic and Islam if you do it from a perspective of cool hostility.

Brennan should by no means be exempt from criticism or scrutiny -- and not just over the obvious issues of drones and torture. The highly inaccurate press briefing he gave after the bin Laden raid, for instance, irritated many in the Pentagon and seems to me to be more problematic than the post-Benghazi comments that scuttled Susan Rice's nomination, since Brennan was actually involved in the events he was describing.

But seriously, the guy who, according to David Sanger, makes "the final call on authorizing specific drone strikes from his cramped office in the basement of the West Wing" is too sympathetic to Islamist radicals? Ask Anwar al-Awlaki about that.