Japan reconsiders nuclear in new energy plan

It looks increasingly likely Japan is rowing back on plans to completely scrap nuclear power. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 the country’s then-prime minister was urged to ditch […]

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By Vicky Ellis

It looks increasingly likely Japan is rowing back on plans to completely scrap nuclear power.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 the country’s then-prime minister was urged to ditch the energy source which faced a surge of public opposition. The country was forced to fall back on foreign gas supplies to cope with electricity demand.

But a draft energy policy given to Japanese ministers yesterday states that “nuclear power is an important baseload electricity source”, according to reports.

Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also told reporters: “It was impossible to plan any energy mix, as it’s been unclear how many reactors can come back online.”

Ever since the election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2012, there appears to have been a shift in the way nuclear energy is talked about by officials.

Last week the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said Japan will fast-track the restart of some nuclear reactors, reported Japan Today.

Currently none of Japan’s 48 nuclear reactors are running. Analysts at Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics calculate between six and 22 power plants could reopen for at least eight months in 2014, depending on how well safety assessments go.

The group’s Chief Economist Ken Koyama has speculated that total opposition to nuclear may have gone against some candidates in recent Tokyo mayoral elections.