Sat, Apr 12, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Japanese Cabinet backs energy plan, with nuclear power

Reuters, TOKYO

Japan’s Cabinet yesterday approved a new energy policy, reversing the previous government’s plans to gradually mothball nuclear power plants following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

The new Basic Energy Plan defines nuclear as an “important baseload power source” and says Japan will do as much as possible to increase renewable energy supplies, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference after the Cabinet meeting.

However, the plan does not give numerical targets or dates.

“The government is starting over, withdrawing the energy strategy drawn up before the disaster. This is where we started,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Environmentalists yesterday lashed out at the new energy plan, which they said was “a product of compromise” intended to give succor to the nuclear industry.

“Japan’s new Basic Energy Plan, which the Cabinet agreed on today, is a product of compromise between the government and politicians, and it is as close as ‘basic business support plan’ for the utilities and nuclear industry,” said Hisayo Takada, Greenpeace Japan’s climate and energy campaigner.

“We all know that a nuclear power plant accident can be a fateful crisis for the country,” she said. “It is totally unacceptable to keep using such a ... dangerous electricity generation method for another 20 years.”

Meanwhile, Kyushu Electric Power Co has become Japan’s second nuclear generator to seek state support this week as reactors across the country remain idled.

According to nuclear power industry ministry data, the utilities have spent ¥9 trillion (US$86.9 billion) on additional fuel costs since the Fukushima disaster. To ease the strain, the companies have been raising electricity charges, but were warned by Motegi this week that further increases must be avoided.

Additional reporting by AFP

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