A senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Monday it is necessary for the government to determine whether to resume nuclear plant operations at an early date.
"The economy will eventually stall in terms of energy cost" as long as most nuclear reactors remain idled, Hiroyuki Hosoda, executive acting secretary general of the LDP, said in his speech in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. "It is needed to determine their resumption by securing their safety."
He also said, "Power companies will face capital deficits in around three years if their reactors remain idled, and the basis of their existence will be affected."
Currently, only two reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant are online among Japan's 50 commercial reactors amid widespread suspension of operations resulting from the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi complex.
On Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Hosoda expressed caution, saying it was likely the eventual terms of the negotiations would be "unacceptable" to Japan, with the United States leading the rulemaking of the Pacific-wide free trade talks. Japan "needs to consider (participation) in a cautious manner," he said.
The LDP pledged during campaigning for the Dec. 16 House of Representatives election that Japan would not join the negotiations for as long as they were premised on the elimination of all tariffs without exception.