National / Politics

Cabinet's new energy plan praised by pro-nuclear U.S.

Kyodo

The United States on Friday welcomed Japan’s new energy policy, which favors the use of nuclear power despite the three core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant that tainted much of the prefecture with radiation in 2011.

In a joint statement released after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama held a summit in Tokyo Thursday, the United States said it “welcomed Japan’s new strategic energy plan, which includes global, peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy and acceleration of the introduction of renewable energy.”

The remarks stand in contrast to the concerns the U.S. is said to have expressed when the previous government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, now the main opposition party, decided in 2012 on an energy strategy that sought to phase out nuclear power.

Japan and the United States share close nuclear business ties and Tokyo’s decision to break away from atomic power could have delivered a blow to the U.S. energy industry.

Touching on the two countries’ efforts to promote clean energy, such as by deepening civil nuclear cooperation, the joint statement hailed these moves as “part of a broader effort to address the urgent challenge of global climate change.”

In the energy policy decided on April 11, the government led by the pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party labeled nuclear power as an “important” source of electricity, while vowing to push for the restart of reactors that clear the new safety requirements drafted after the Fukushima disaster.

All of the 48 commercial reactors nationwide are offline amid public safety concerns over nuclear energy. Those seeking to restart are waiting for state safety assessments.

Nuclear power supplied about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity before the Fukushima crisis, which was triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.