Industry minister Yukio Edano left open the possibility of several of Japan’s nuclear power plants operating well into the future, despite the government’s policy of reducing Japan’s reliance on nuclear power.
Edano told The Asahi Shimbun that the government stood by the principle of moving away from nuclear power generation, but said that did not necessarily mean eliminating reactors in the medium term.
"Moving away from a reliance on nuclear energy does not necessarily mean in the end that there are no reactors in operation," he said.
"We will gradually reduce the number by sticking to the principle of decommissioning reactors after 40 years of service and not constructing new reactors," Edano said.
A committee examining fundamental issues under a comprehensive natural resources and energy advisory panel reporting to Edano has been discussing ways forward for the nuclear industry.
Five options for nuclear power’s share of energy generation in 2030 are being considered for inclusion in the government’s new energy basic plan: 0 percent, 15 percent, between 20 and 25 percent, 35 percent and not setting a ratio in advance.
Edano said of the panel’s work: "I hope they will present opinions that are different from the course of moving away from nuclear energy dependence that has been set by the Noda administration."
Edano said that among the conditions that would have to be met in order to reduce dependence on nuclear energy were "progress in energy conservation, the spread of renewable energy sources and greater efficiency in thermal power generation using gas as a fuel."
Edano said it was difficult to make sweeping forecasts because the progress in moving away from nuclear energy would rely on the extent of technological development in those areas.
On eliminating nuclear power plants, Edano said: "Setting aside the question of whether that occurs 30 years from now, or 35 years or 25 years, the ultimate issue would be whether there was one or two or three or no reactors still in operation. I believe the public will have to make a decision at that time about what is desirable."
Edano stressed that safety was of the utmost importance in deciding whether to resume operations at nuclear reactors suspended for periodic inspections, and that decisions would be made after progress is achieved in measures against earthquakes and tsunami.
- « Prev
- Next »