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METI panel of experts approves policy of extending operating period and promoting rebuilding of nuclear power plants

December 16, 2022

The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) has approved a proposal for the utilization of nuclear power plants by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), which focuses on the reconstruction (replacement) of nuclear power plants that the government has kept under wraps following the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, at a meeting on December 16. This is a clear shift in nuclear energy policy only less than five months after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s order, amid the ongoing restoration work from the Fukushima accident and compensation for the victims of the disaster. The government will make a formal decision at the Green Transformation (GX) Implementation Conference to be held before the end of the year.

At a meeting of the Basic Policy Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, said, “We would like to move forward with concrete steps to rebuild the reactors we have decided to decommission into next-generation innovative reactors (next-generation nuclear power plants)” on the premise that safety is assured and local governments understand the situation.
 The law was amended after the Fukushima accident to limit the operating period of nuclear power plants to “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years,” but by excluding the shutdown period due to the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s review and other factors, it will be possible to operate nuclear power plants for over 60 years. The government is expected to submit the revised bill to the ordinary Diet session next year.
 At the end of July, the prime minister had ordered a study of measures to ensure a stable energy supply toward a decarbonized society. (Shinichi Ogawa)
◆An overwhelming majority of committee members advocate the promotion of nuclear power generation
 On July 16, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) held a meeting of its experts, the Subcommittee on Basic Policy of the Advisory Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, and approved the ministry’s policy, which focuses on rebuilding (replacing) nuclear power plants and allowing them to operate for 60 years or longer. The committee approved the policy. While an overwhelming majority of the committee members advocated the promotion of nuclear power plants, only one member called for careful discussion.
 At 1:00 p.m. in a conference room on the 17th floor of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. Eighteen of the 21 committee members were present, including online, and three were absent. In addition to METI Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, the meeting was attended by executives including Hosaka Shin, director general of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
 The METI officials explained that the public discussion should be held over a period of about one year. The only one who “waited” on the METI’s proposed policy on the use of nuclear power plants was Ms. Chisato Murakami, an advisor to the committee on consumer affairs. Murakami also criticized the ministry’s approach to the discussion, saying that it was “too hasty” at another METI expert panel meeting on the nuclear energy subcommittee, which discussed the use of nuclear power plants in detail.
 Each committee member had five minutes to express his or her opinion. The other committee members supported METI’s policy, calling it “groundbreaking. Shuzo Sumi, a member of the committee and Senior Advisor to Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, commented, “Construction of nuclear power plants has been halted for more than 10 years. We need to make a decision now in terms of human resources and industry.
 Commissioner Takeo Tachibanagawa, Vice President of Kokusai University, said that while nuclear power plants are necessary, he disagreed with the current policy. He pointed out the contradiction in the policy, saying, “Extending the operation of nuclear power plants will postpone the construction of next-generation innovative reactors (next-generation nuclear power plants), which will cost about 1 trillion yen. He also questioned the policy guideline, the Basic Energy Plan, which calls for renewable energy to be the main source of power, but “there was not much talk about renewable energy.
 The meeting ended in two hours, 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. The executives of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, who had been looking at each other sternly, left the meeting room looking relaxed and chatting with the committee members. (The meeting ended 30 minutes early.)


December 19, 2022 - Posted by | Japan | , ,

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