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Bad move to prolong the life of an industry with no growth potential: Official Decision to Operate Nuclear Power Plants for More Than 60 Years, With the Goal of Restoring the Nuclear Power Plant Accident Unseen

Prime Minister’s Office

December 22, 2022
 On the afternoon of December 22, the government will hold a meeting of the Green Transformation (GX) Council at the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss industrial transformation to realize a decarbonized society, and will formally decide on a basic policy that includes measures to utilize nuclear power plants, focusing on operating them for “more than 60 years” and rebuilding (replacing) them.
After the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011, the government had legally limited the operating period of nuclear power plants to “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years,” and had stated that it “does not envision” rebuilding or adding new plants, but 11 years and 9 months after the accident, the government is making a major change in its nuclear policy.
 According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, nuclear power plants will be allowed to operate for more than 60 years, excluding the period of suspension due to the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s examination and judicial decisions for restarting operations. The revised bill is expected to be submitted to the ordinary Diet session next year.
 In addition, the company will move forward with concrete plans to rebuild nuclear power plants that have been decided to be decommissioned with next-generation nuclear power plants, based on the assumption that safety is ensured and that the local governments in which the plants are located have their understanding. The construction of new nuclear power plants is estimated to cost more than 1 trillion yen, and the government will also consider financial support measures to help electric power companies bear the initial costs.
 The basic policy will also include the development of the power grid to maximize the use of renewable energy.
 At the end of July, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed relevant ministries and agencies to advance discussions on overcoming the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the GX as one, and to specify items requiring a political decision.
◆ While uninhabitable areas still remain and compensation for the affected people is still ongoing
 Prime Minister Kishida is calling it a “political decision” to change the nuclear energy policy. While the GX’s cause of reforming the socioeconomic system to combat global warming has been raised, the maximum utilization of nuclear power plants is a bad move, a measure to prolong the life of an industry that is not expected to grow.
 There are two pillars of the government’s decision to utilize nuclear power plants: The first is to cut to the bare bones the rule of “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years” for operation, effectively allowing operation “beyond 60 years.
 Ensuring the safety of old nuclear power plants requires an enormous amount of manpower, money, and time. Nuclear power plants, which the government has promoted as an “inexpensive power source,” would impose a tremendous double-digit trillion-yen burden on electric power companies if even one severe accident were to occur. The accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant 11 years and 9 months ago brought this to light.
 The other pillar of the plan is to rebuild the decommissioned nuclear power plants with next-generation nuclear power plants. Although it is touted as the introduction of new technology, the number of human resources in the industry has decreased since the Fukushima accident, and there is an undeniable lack of personnel and technical capabilities. Nuclear power plant construction has long ceased, and nuclear power plant exports, promoted as a growth strategy by the Shinzo Abe administration, the longest in the postwar era, have failed at every turn.
 At the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, located 220 kilometers from Tokyo, the goal of restoration work remains elusive. Uninhabitable areas remain in the vicinity of the plant, and compensation for the victims is still ongoing. There is no hope for political decisions that do not face reality. (Shinichi Ogawa)


January 5, 2023 - Posted by | Japan | , ,

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