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» METI committee includes the replacement of new nuclear reactors as a option of decommissioning

A committee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry began work to include, in a midterm report on energy policy, the replacement of decommissioned nuclear reactors with new ones as an open option for future consideration.

The committee writes in a draft for the report, “If the vision of the future of nuclear power, including the replacement of power supply lost from reactor decommissioning, remains unclear, power companies and municipalities hosting nuclear plants will have a difficult time deciding to go through with decommissioning.” The draft notes that “this needs to be kept in mind” in making future nuclear policy.

While avoiding direct language, the draft’s mention of “replacement of power supply lost from reactor decommissioning” refers to building new nuclear reactors to replace those lost. Currently, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is still evaluating a construction plan for restarting the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and a source says that, “With not a single reactor yet reactivated, the committee couldn’t ignore the NRA and start using direct language (about building nuclear reactors).”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has stated a goal of lowering Japan’s dependence on nuclear power as much as possible. In order to do this, the administration is pushing for early decisions on whether to decommission seven reactors, such as the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture, which in July 2016 will pass 40 years since their activation. Municipalities hosting those reactors, however, called for the construction of replacement reactors or new economic support because removing the reactors would end government funding they have received for hosting the facilities.

Chubu Electric Power Co. has a plan on hold for building a sixth reactor at its Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, where it decided in 2008 to decommission the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors. There were also plans to replace the No. 1 reactor at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant and to build two new reactors at the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant that were being considered before the Fukushima nuclear disaster put them on hold. If the government gives the OK for a policy of replacing decommissioned reactors, these plans are expected to resume.

Furthermore, by suddenly starting talks about replacing nuclear reactors with new ones right after a general election where the Abe administration avoided comment on the nuclear plant issue, the government could face criticism that it hid the issue during the election.


<Media Report>
Draft hints at replacing decommissioned nuclear reactors with new ones (Mainichi Newspaper)

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