• Kyodo

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As the Abe administration strives to revive the nuclear power sector, stalled since the March 2011 Fukushima crisis, an interim report by an industry ministry committee on energy policy has suggested that the construction of new reactors to replace units that are too old to be restarted should be considered as a possible option.

“Without a clear future vision for our nation’s nuclear power, including how to make up for electricity supply that would be lost as a result of reactor decommissioning, (utilities and local host communities) will find it difficult to decide whether to scrap nuclear reactors,” the report said Wednesday.

The role nuclear power can play remains “as significant as renewable energy” in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and “the government should clarify its stance on building new reactors as well as replacement of (old) reactors with new ones while promoting understanding of nuclear power among the public,” the report said.

The administration is expected to begin full-fledged consideration of the issue as it needs to decide on the country’s future energy mix, but replacing reactors would appear to contradict its pledge to reduce reliance on nuclear power and put more emphasis on renewable energy.

An official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the administration has no set policy on the replacement of scrapped reactors at the moment.

While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to reactivate the reactors that were gradually taken offline following the Fukushima crisis, he is also promoting the decommissioning of older facilities that may be vulnerable to disaster, apparently aiming to ease public concern over nuclear power.

Surveys show about 60 percent of Japanese oppose nuclear power.

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