Nissan Leaf-Owning Actor: Electricity Good, Nuclear... Not So Much

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Nissan Leaf presented to Japanese actor Isao Natsuyagi

Nissan Leaf presented to Japanese actor Isao Natsuyagi

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2011's earthquake and tsunami in Japan brought energy use into sharp focus.

Such events frequently cause grids to fail, but it was the inundation and subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear facility that garnered the most attention, and the disaster has turned the public strongly against nuclear power in the country.

With the release of a Japanese film inspired by the events in 2011, lead actor Isao Natsuyagi took the time to comment on nuclear energy--while picking up the keys to his own Nissan Leaf electric car.

In the film, Isao-san is a dairy farmer in a fictional prefecture of Japan, when an earthquake triggers a nuclear meltdown like that at Fukushima--near to his character's home.

Natsuyagi says he's quite similar to the character he portrays, believing energy discussion highly important.

“We humans need to think about what kind of energy we need to use in order to survive", he says, adding, "we are not the only ones who need to survive. We live today thanks to the environment including all the other animals and plants. That is why it is very important to think about energy because it affects them, too.”

Nuclear power taining electric cars' image in Japan?

Nuclear power taining electric cars' image in Japan?

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Some have worried that the nuclear disaster would actually turn Japanese customers off electric cars before the market had even started--the country previously generated 30 percent its power from nuclear sources.

Now, many of the country's plants have been suspended, decomissioned or shut down. Japan is in the midst of debate on whether to phase out nuclear power completely.

Natsuyagi's words are pertinent given his new Leaf--he'll be hoping, along with much of Japan, that there's a better way to power it in future than on nuclear-generated electricity.


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Comments (13)
  1. Yes! Someday we'll wake up to the dangers of nuclear power. I often hear co-workers state that they support nuclear power, but when asked about disposal of spent nuclear fuel rods they gladly want them dumped on someone else's backyard -- not theirs. Hypocrites!

    We need to change our mind set. There is plenty of power from the sun and wind. Imagine if home builders are asked to provide potential buyers the option of upgrading their cabinets, floors, and, by the way, “would you like solar panels incorporated into your roof structure?” Hell yeah! The cost can be rolled into the mortgage and increase the value of the house.

  2. Don't tar all nuclear options with the same brush.

    Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors do not produce long term radio-active waste, run on cheap thorium, and are inherently safe.


  3. I am not a fan of nuclear power, sure coal produces harmful emissions but you can't loose control of it and create waste so lasting and hazardous that there is almost no way to dispose of it. I'm a fan of solar power and I really like the idea of individual buildings having their own solar array, being resposable for your own power is the best way forward.

  4. The Japanese have a strange idea of what constitutes a disaster.
    A tsunami that kills over 10,000 and destroys entire cities and towns is not mentioned, while a nuclear accident that kills nobody, and results in a "slight injury" to several plant workers is a "disaster." Japan now pays a whole lot more for electricity and is burning fossil fuels by the hundreds of thousands of tons. They have now rejected the emissions agreements they signed a few years ago and their emissions will not only not be reduced, but will be increased dramatically unless they restart their nuclear plants. There are now signs however, that a more rational approach is being talked about.
    Opposition to nuclear power is always based on fear and ignorance. Always.

  5. @Kent: I take it, then, that you would support disposal of the used nuclear fuel next to your home and/or local elementary school?

  6. I take it, then, by advocating use of your municipal trash service you would support disposal of garbage next to your home and/or local elementary school?

    I own a Leaf, and where I live, unfortunately, it's fueled primarily by coal, I'd love for it to be fueled by nuclear energy instead, as carbon emissions are a much greater danger to the planet than spent nuclear fuel is. And, given the choice, I'd much rather live within 2 miles of 2 nuclear plants, (especially modern reactor designs) than within 2 miles of 2 coal plants like I do now. Nuclear waste is containable, coal plant pollution and carbon is not.

    The American Lung Association says coal power kills 13,000 people/year. How many does nuclear power kill?

  7. @Seth - I advocate living directly under the solar panels on my roof. No need to make a choice between two very bad alternatives. I like to think my Model S loves me for it, too.

  8. And everyone on an aircraft carrier or a submarine lives with their nuclear reactor. Solar and wind power are great and should be a long-term goal, and in my opinion, solar > wind > hydro > nuclear > gas > coal. If opposition to nuclear power resulted in more hydro/wind/solar that's great, if it results in more coal and gas, that's not good. Nuclear is carbon-neutral, gas and coal are not. Nuclear needs to be part of the solution going forward so we can get off coal & gas, it produces a lot of carbon-neutral energy at an affordable price. I'd love to use solar, but at my latitude it's not very affordable (3.5 kWh/m2/day).

  9. John, How about developing newer/safer nuclear like LFTR ( that won't have nearly the same disposal issues?

  10. @Kent - the Insurance Industry concern with nuclear power is so deep, they refuse to cover it. The only way nuclear plants can be built is Government liability limits for the plants. So who is on the hook for nuclear liability? Check your homeowners policy and you see that it is YOU. I guess the whole Insurance Industry is a victim of fear and ignorance.

  11. So lets say there is a gigantic earthquake in Arizona and the Hover dam fails sending a tilde wave down stream destroying and killing hundreds maybe thousands... Is Hydro electric bad?
    I understand about the radiation factor but the ones at fault here where the builders of the plants themselves. On a rock face in Fukashima there is an inscription dating a couple of hundred years ago showing how high the water level rose during a Tsunami. If the nuclear company that build the plants would have paid attention they should have build the reactors much higher to avoid such a recorded Tsunami wave height.... And now you have nuclear meltdown form something that could have been avoided.

  12. Surely Robert that's a better description of just how difficult it is to find a balance between generating power for millions and doing so cost-effectively?

    Japan's topography isn't ideal for building complicated things like nuclear plants on higher ground, and I doubt placing it where they did was a decision taken lightly.

  13. Storage batteries like those used in electric vehicles allows us look at power sources & how we use electricity in better ways.

    This article overlooks the roll the electric LEAF played in helping with cleanup & recovery from 2011 tsunami & related events. As part of cleanup Nissan provided a fleet of LEAFs to bring power to where it was no longer. Key to providing the power was the LEAF-to-Home system:

    Many LEAF owners in Japan have installed the LEAF-to-Home systems to draw grid power at night, & power home in peak times when electricity was constrained (eg: rolling blackouts). Beyond emergencies, another advantage is caching cheaper off-peak electricity to power home when electricity is higher priced.

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