Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama said in early July that the government will work out a program to phase out inefficient coal-burning thermal power plants — by either suspending or scrapping these plants. METI later followed up on the move by launching a panel of experts to weigh concrete policy steps to implement the plan.

A growing number of countries have pledged to either halt or decommission coal plants as a symbolic move toward decarbonization in the effort to fight climate change under the Paris Agreement that took effect in November 2016. Britain, Germany and France have set their own deadlines for scrapping all of their coal-fired power plants, while other European nations promise to end coal power as a centerpiece of their energy policies.

At the United Nations Climate Action Summit, held in New York last September, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on member states for a full departure from coal power, urging them not to build any new coal-fired plant beginning in 2020, noting that they emit more carbon dioxide than any other energy source.