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Even ministers don't see eye to eye on govt's energy policy

October 2, 2012
New ministers trade barbs over Japan's controversial energy strategy



TOKYO (Kyodo) -- New Cabinet ministers on Monday traded barbs over the government's recently compiled energy strategy, which is criticized for being inconsistent because it aims to phase out nuclear power generation by the 2030s without terminating a long-standing policy to recycle spent fuel.

Science minister Makiko Tanaka, known for her outspokenness, called the strategy "very contradictory," but national policy minister Seiji Maehara hit back over her remarks, saying she may have been speaking "roughly."

Continuing the policy to reprocess spent fuel and reuse extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel is seen as reflecting the government's consideration of the repercussions on local governments that host related facilities and on the United States, which has close ties with Japan over nuclear businesses.

"The policy intends to pay utmost respect to the stakeholders that have cooperated (with the fuel recycling policy) and to take time for discussion to resolve problems...so I think calling it contradictory is a bit rough," Maehara told a press conference.

By retaining Yukio Edano as the economy, trade and industry minister, who was involved in crafting the strategy, the government indicated that there is no change in its stance to seek to break away from atomic power generation in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster last year.

But the pathway toward realizing that goal appears to be unclear by the government's announced intention to continue the fuel recycling program and to allow construction to continue of reactors which already received the approval of authorities.


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