Japan’s nuclear-policy-setting Atomic Energy Commission issued a report today calling for nuclear energy to remain a key component of the country’s energy mix despite broad public support for a less nuclear-reliant society. The report approved by the commission calls for nuclear energy to make up at least 20 percent of Japan’s supply in 2030, citing the government energy plan. It says rising utility costs from expensive fossil fuel imports and slow reactor restarts have affected Japan’s economy.
The resumption of the nuclear policy report is a sign Japan’s accelerating effort to restart more reactors. “The government should make clear the long-term benefit of nuclear power generation and consider measures that need to be taken,” it said. Japan shut down all its nuclear reactors but has restarted five of them. They now produce 1 percent of Japan’s power.
The 322-page report is the commission’s first since the 2011 meltdowns at a nuclear plant in Fukushima. The bulk of it explains the government’s effort to clean up the meltdowns and tighten safety standards. The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused triple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate from the region due to radiation leaks or concerns of their impact on health. Government, parliamentary and private investigations also blamed the lack of safety culture at the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, as well as its collusion with regulators, leading to nuclear safety and regulation reforms.