20 Janvier 2019
January 18, 2019
Japan to press on with nuclear export drive after Hitachi blow
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese government said Friday it will continue to back the export of nuclear power technology as part of the country's growth strategy, a day after Hitachi Ltd. announced it has suspended a nuclear plant project in Britain.
"There won't be any changes to our policy," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told a press conference, even though Hitachi's latest decision will leave Japan with no major overseas nuclear power plant project.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate press conference it is "essential" to secure human resources and enhance the technological and industrial base for nuclear operations, which would also help Japan deal with the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster and ensure the safe operation of other reactors.
Hitachi effectively withdrew from a 3 trillion yen ($27 billion) plan to build two reactors in Wales, with President and CEO Toshiaki Higashihara saying Thursday it had reached "limits" regarding further investment in the project as a private entity.
Toshiba Corp. decided in 2017 to exit nuclear power businesses outside Japan after incurring huge losses in the United States, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is leaning toward withdrawing from a nuclear project in Turkey.
The Japanese government has been seeking to export nuclear technology amid difficulties in building reactors at home due to safety concerns following the Fukushima crisis. It had hoped overseas projects would offer opportunities for Japanese engineers to hone their skills.
Progress toward restarting existing reactors in Japan has also been slow. The country has introduced stricter safety rules which require equipment upgrades, resulting in higher costs.