Minsters fail to endorse a report recommending the country switch off all its reactors in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster
The Japanese government yesterday stopped short of approving plans that would see the country phase out its nuclear power stations by 2040.
Lawmakers only partially endorsed a report submitted by a cabinet panel late last week and removed any mention of the deadline, which was the most strongly supported option in the two-month public consultation on which the document was based.
Data released last month indicated 90 per cent of respondents wanted to abolish nuclear power, which has suffered a loss of public confidence since a tsunami led to a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima plants in March last year.
However, businesses had strongly opposed the move, arguing phasing out nuclear energy was not economically feasible and would force production overseas.
The cabinet only said yesterday it would take the panel’s report “into consideration”, although deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada insisted ditching the deadline did not mean the government had given up on a nuclear-free future.
“We aim to have zero nuclear power by the 2030s, but we have never said we will achieve zero by that date,” he told journalists.
But the move calls into question other recommendations including reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 per cent from 1990 levels and cutting energy consumption 10 per cent from 2010.
Although national policy minister Motohisa Furukawa vowed to push for green energy and to seek to curb carbon dioxide emissions, commentators are concerned Japan’s energy shortfall may spark a huge rise in fossil fuel electricity generation.
“Decisions by both Japan and Germany to wind down their respective nuclear infrastructure pose a challenge to the renewable industry,” said Chris Gadomski, lead nuclear analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“How well these technologies can respond without increased GHG emissions and higher electricity prices will be closely scrutinised by politicians and industry alike.”
Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s nuclear plants provided about 30 per cent of its energy and minsters had planned to raise this to 50 per cent. However, all of the county’s plants were shut down for safety tests in the wake of the meltdown and only two have since been switched back on.
Original article posted at Japan cools on 2040 nuclear phase-out