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A nation must think before it acts.
This article considers the political-economic process by which “energy angst” created an embedded nuclear orientation in Japanese energy policymaking, and then how, following Fukushima, Japan initially tried to transform that structural tendency, through a political system poorly suited to reform, before edging back toward its traditional path. Due both to the prevailing systemic bias and the underlying political economy of nuclear power, the process of transformation promises to be a turbulent and extended one, with natural gas and energy efficiency being crucial tools for ameliorating the difficult realities of the domestic status quo.