Nuclear advocates are dismayed that fears over Japan's Fukushima plant might kill an industry that has a better safety record than virtually any other. But they ignore the fact that nuclear's potential for catastrophe is orders of magnitude greater than any of its alternatives. Hence, only when investors are willing to foot the entire bill for its construction and liability can we believe that nuclear is truly safe.
That, however, is not the case anywhere—least of all in Japan, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in her latest column at The Daily. Japan's mercantilist rulers have made nuclear a major stepping-stone on Japan's road to energy independence nirvana. As Dalmia notes, the Japanese government has effectively privatized the profits of nuclear and socialized the risks. "It uses taxpayer money to diminish the industry's concern with safety—which government regulations can't restore," she writes. "In 2008, Tokyo actually started offering bigger subsidies to communities that agreed to fewer inspections."