Incoming leader repeats pledge but links any move to policy on future energy mix

Abe hints at scrapping reactor ban

Kyodo

The head of the Liberal Democratic Party repeated Saturday that he will consider revoking the ban on construction of new nuclear reactors after he takes office this week.

Shinzo Abe, who is all but assured of becoming the nation’s next prime minister on Wednesday, made the remarks in Tabuse, Yamaguchi Prefecture, hinting he could abandon the policy, which is aimed at reducing the nation’s dependence on nuclear power in light of the dangers presented by the Fukushima meltdowns.

“We’d like to review how to think about the issue nationwide,” Abe said at a news conference in Yamaguchi on Friday.

He returned to his constituency Friday evening and visited the grave of his father, former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, and his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, before returning to Tokyo on Saturday evening.

Abe, who is set to become Japan’s seventh prime minister in six years, said the new government will consider whether to allow power companies to build new reactors in line with his party’s goal of determining the country’s future energy mix within the next 10 years.

The ban on new reactors was part of an energy strategy crafted by outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s government in September, after three reactor cores melted at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011.

The strategy also said Japan will aim to phase out nuclear power in the 2030s, but that goal is widely expected to be retracted after the change in government following the Democratic Party of Japan’s bruising defeat in Sunday’s general election.

Currently, three reactors are under construction and nine more are at the planning stage.