DPJ panel seeks early restart of suspended reactors

Kyodo

A panel of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan has drafted an energy policy recommendation calling for an early restart of nuclear reactors that have been suspended for regular checks, after safety measures are taken.

The proposal falls short of discussing Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s call for creating a society free from dependence on nuclear energy, after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sparked the ongoing atomic crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The safety steps it mentioned also didn’t specify if they include the stress tests that all reactors nationwide must now undergo.

The DPJ’s growth-strategy project team will soon finalize the recommendation so it will be reflected in a government energy policy to be decided later this week.

The draft, unveiled Tuesday, says the government should develop a strategy to prevent domestic and foreign firms from leaving the country and maintain and enhance the nation’s industrial competitiveness over the medium to long term.

Regarding nuclear energy, the document says reactors halted under regular checks should be restarted promptly after sufficient safety measures are taken. It also urges the government to avoid rolling blackouts and any hike in electricity charges.

It also calls on efficient energy consumption through the introduction of storage batteries, smart electricity meters and energy-efficient light emitting diode bulbs, rather than curbing necessary electricity demand.

The draft calls on the supply side to steadily introduce renewable energy sources to achieve a diversified electricity system.

No-show tab for Tepco

A government panel will make Tokyo Electric Power Co. pay damages for cancellation of reservations by tourists from overseas due to the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant crisis, a draft of its compensation guidelines showed Tuesday.

The latest move by the panel under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is part of its updated guidelines due by the next panel meeting on Aug. 5.

The panel will recognize lost revenue that resulted from the cancellation of hotel and package tour reservations by the end of May in regions where the government did not issue evacuation orders.

Until now, the government has not required Tepco to compensate operators of hotels and inns outside Fukushima Prefecture.

The government will also make Tepco cover losses suffered by farmers in wider areas affected by fears of radioactive contamination — even in the absence of hazardous radiation levels.