Nu­clear lobby in Ja­pan pledges to re­fire re­ac­tors de­spite fears

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Ja­pan’s pro- nu­clear lobby pledged Mon­day that 2015 would be the year re­ac­tors are restarted, de­spite public wari­ness that has lin­gered since the Fukushima dis­as­ter.

In­dus­try of­fi­cials and sup­port­ers said the coun­try des­per­ately needs atomic power to play its part in cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions and to en­sure a sta­ble elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

“This year marks the exit from zero nu­clear power,” Takashi Imai, chair­man of the Ja­pan Atomic Industrial Fo­rum, told an au­di­ence of around 900 peo­ple, in­clud­ing in­dus­try of­fi­cials and global pol­i­cy­mak­ers.

“It is self-ev­i­dent that nu­clear power plants that have passed safety tests should be restarted as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said, cit­ing the need for a sta­ble power sup­ply.

Ja­pan’s atomic watch­dog last year gave the green light to restarts for four re­ac­tors — a move wel­comed by pro-nu­clear Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

The push from the nu­clear in­dus­try comes as the public re­mains deeply con­cerned about safety, more than four years af­ter a tsunami sparked melt­downs at Fukushima, spread­ing ra­di­a­tion over a large area and forc­ing tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from their homes.

It also comes as Ja­pan pre­pares to de­cide its new en­ergy pol­icy — how much elec­tric­ity will come from re­new­ables, nu­clear and fos­sil fu­els — and read­ies to make a new in­ter­na­tional pledge on cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions be­fore a global sum­mit on cli­mate change this year.

Yukiya Amano, direc­tor gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA), said the atom could not be for­saken.

“De­spite the Fukushima Dai­ichi ac­ci­dent, nu­clear power has con­tin­ued to play an im­por­tant part in the global en­ergy mix,” he said.

“Nu­clear power can make coun­tries more com­pet­i­tive by de­liv­er­ing the steady sup­ply of base- load elec­tric­ity which is needed to power the mod­ern econ­omy. It also helps to re­duce emis­sions of green­house gas,” Amano said.

While the earth­quake and tsunami killed more than 18,000 peo­ple, the dis­as­ter it caused at Fukushima is not of­fi­cially recorded as hav­ing di­rectly cost any lives.

How­ever, it dis­placed a size­able pop­u­la­tion and has made some ar­eas un­in­hab­it­able, with warn­ings cer­tain set­tle­ments may have to be aban­doned for­ever.

The com­pli­cated de­com­mis­sion­ing of the crip­pled re­ac­tors is ex­pected to take up to 40 years and may need tech­nol­ogy not yet in­vented.

Anti-nu­clear ac­tivists are try­ing to block moves to restart four re­ac­tors at two plants by seek­ing court in­junc­tions.

A rul­ing for the Taka­hama nu­clear plant in cen­tral Ja­pan, one of two on­go­ing cases, is ex­pected on Tues­day while an­other rul­ing for the Sendai plant in south­ern Ja­pan is ex­pected on April 22, ac­cord­ing to plain­tiffs.

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