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No immediate end to nukes

 October 20, 2013


Abe to retain nuclear power in nation’s basic energy policy



The Liberal Democratic Party-led government will clarify its medium- to long-term policy of maintaining the share of nuclear power at a certain level in the nation’s energy mix on condition that its safety is secured, according to sources.

By the end of the year, the government plans to revise the current basic energy policy, which was drawn up in 2010 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power, to reflect lessons learned from the meltdown calamity at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was wrecked by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

A subcommittee of the industry ministry’s advisory committee for natural resources and energy will start full-fledged work on the revision next month, the sources said.

At a meeting Wednesday, members of the subcommittee stated their opinions about nuclear power.

Kyoto University professor Hajimu Yamana said that nuclear power is important from the viewpoint of energy security. Keigo Akimoto of the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth argued nuclear power is an affordable source of electricity and useful for combating global warming.

Before the LDP returned to power last December and its leader, Shinzo Abe, became prime minister, many members of the committee under the predecessor government, led by the DPJ, had called for the country’s dependence on nuclear power to be phased out.

After Abe and the LDP took over, subcommittee members have been reshuffled and there have been no demands from new members for an immediate end to nuclear power.

The existing basic energy policy sees nuclear power as a key source of electricity and has a goal of increasing the proportion of energies that do not emit carbon dioxide, including atomic and hydraulic power, to some 70 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.

In the forthcoming revision, the government has no plans to include a numerical target for a desirable level of reliance on nuclear power because it is not known how many reactors can be brought back online under new safety standards introduced in July, the sources said.

While the government is seeking to restart reactors once their safety has been confirmed, Abe has said the government will reduce dependence on nuclear power as much as possible.

At the subcommittee meeting, Kikuko Tatsumi of the Nippon Association of Consumer Specialists said the government should make it clear how much and by what means it aims to reduce dependence on nuclear power.

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