"Can handle" is the phrase you use. I would suggest to you that the verb you want is "uses," since "can handle" suggests that Japan has dealt with the issues I mentioned in a useful way. I'd be interested to know how they've dealt with disposal of nuclear waste, for example, and what they've done with antiquated nuclear facilities whose parts have become a bit brittle due to constant exposure to radiation.
While Japan is formally a non-militarized nation, and they do not, formally, formally have what we would consider an army, Do you think it possible that the Japanese may have used their domestic power plants to have, say, produced enough nuclear material to have developed an atomic arsenal? Do you think this possibility is a stabilizing or destabilizing force for that region and the world.
I would suggest to you that if you want a cheap and reliable source of power, you might check out some of the discussion in the solar power section. The upside is not as steep, the downside is much much better. It's a set of options that could cut your electric bill, potentially, by a great deal. You'd save the difference on a monthly basis, sometimes more, sometimes less.
You wouldn't have to pay for the construction and amortization of expensive nuclear power plants. See LR's cogent comment, above. You wouldn't have to see your power company put on a campaign to deregulate by promising an almost instant savings of twenty percent, only to jack up rates close to three hundred percent as they apparently did in San Diego here a few years back.
You would have your own power source, and buy only whatever extra you needed.
You might even be in a position of being able to sell some excess back to the power company, though I wouldn't bet on them allowing you to make a profit on it, after seeing the way they've worked things thus far.
Heaven forfend that you actually be able to do it yourself for a reasonable amount of money.
As for France, I tend to like the French folks I've met. I think they made the best decision they thought that the information in 1957 offered them. They then used it to both produce power and a Force de Frappe. Of the two elements of the decision, I believe that the second part was the most compelling for the Gaullist government at the time. They were still stinging at the way they'd been treated by the Russians, the Americans and the English during WWII, and they wanted to prove themselves both powerful enough and independent enough not to need NATO. The decision was not one made on the basis of how to generate electrical power alone. Many other sorts of power came into the picture. The war with Algeria was underway, and this seemed like an excellent decision for the French at the time.
To pretend that the decision was the simple one you characterize it as being, John, is over-simplification to the point of deception. To suggest the decision isn't one with considerable difficulty to it now (I had been going to say "fallout") is also an oversimplification.
I will say that the nuclear power industry is a useful thing to have for the nuclear weapons industry as a source of raw materiel. In a world where there may already be too many of the things, do we really want to encourage the possibility of more?
Otherwise, gee, what could be nicer?
Sincerely, Bob Kaven
As to your immediately preceding posting, I can just imagine the warmth and approval with which you'd greet such a proposal, and with which you'd welcome it, and with which you'd support it every step of the way.
That's one of the reasons.
I can hardly imagine getting you to research a heat pump or a solar array. Perhaps you're willing to read the posting that LR offered on the Solar Thread?
Check out some of the technology that's available for helping solve some of these problems without dumping billions not only into nuclear power plants, but into the pockets of the deregulated utilities who are charging you to build them. Lots of potential downside to these plants.