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Japan Plans To Restart Closed Nuclear Reactors

Simon Tomlinson, Daily Mail

Japan has unveiled plans to re-start dozens of nuclear reactors that were shut down after the Fukushima disaster despite past promises to end atomic energy altogether.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has revealed a new Basic Energy Plan that will push to bring the country’s 48 commercial reactors online if they pass safety tests and could even see the construction of new ones.

Observers say the U-turn has been influenced by political and economic factors, notably the change of leadership after the Fukushima meltdown three years ago, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who announced a commitment to end nuclear power in Japan by 2040, was far less connected to the country’s nuclear industry than his successor.

Meanwhile, the impact of closing down its plants, which generated some 30 per cent of its power, meant Japan had to massively increase its imports of oil and gas.

This contributed to a $204billion (£120million) trade deficit between March 2011 and the end of last year, which in turn forced electricity bills up by more than 50 per cent, it was reported by Time.

On top of that, carbon emissions within the electricity industry have doubled.

Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s minister for trade and industry, said: ‘If we had indicated “zero nuclear” without any basis, one could not call it a responsible energy policy.’

The draft presented yesterday to the Cabinet for approval expected in March, said that Japan’s nuclear energy dependency will be reduced as much as possible, but that reactors meeting new safety standards set after the 2011 nuclear crisis should be restarted.

Japan has 48 commercial reactors, but all are offline until and unless they pass the new safety requirements.

The draft of the Basic Energy Plan said that a mix of nuclear, renewable and fossil fuel will be the most reliable and stable source of electricity to meet Japan’s energy needs.

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