Japan’s new energy policy supports nuclear use

April 11, 2014 12:35 pm | Updated May 28, 2016 08:22 am IST - Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Friday approved a new energy policy that sees nuclear power as an important source of electricity, and reversing the previous administration’s plan to phase out nuclear power.

The Basic Energy Plan describes nuclear power as an “important base-load power source” that is cheap in terms of operation costs and can generate electricity continuously through the day.

The move comes as Mr. Abe has moved to reactivate idled reactors. All of the nation’s 48 reactors have been suspended amid public fears about nuclear power following the 2011 atomic accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. is likely to get safety clearance for its nuclear power plant on the southern island of Kyushu, local media reported on Thursday.

Japanese regulators are expected to allow the operator to restart two reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima prefecture, broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan’s new energy policy nullifies a nuclear phase-out plan approved by the previous government following the disaster at Fukushima, which was caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Environmentalists criticised the reassertion of the role of nuclear energy in Japan’s power mix.

“We express our strong regret over the fact that the energy policy was decided as if the nation had not gone through its worst nuclear accident,” Friends of the Earth Japan said.

Nearly 90 per cent of about 90,000 written opinions submitted to the DPJ-led government in 2012 supported the phase-out plan, the group said.

Mr. Abe’s government “repeatedly ignored public opinion,” it said.

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