Japan Plans Nuclear-Power Revival

MIDDLETOWN, PA - MARCH 28: The Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is seen in the early morning hours March 28, 2011 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. 
National Journal
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Clare Foran
Feb. 25, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

After at­tempt­ing to phase out ex­ist­ing re­act­ors, Ja­pan is tak­ing a cau­tious step to­ward re­start­ing its nuc­le­ar-power sec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Journ­al, Ja­pan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe re­leased a draft en­ergy policy pro­pos­al on Tues­day that calls nuc­le­ar power an im­port­ant part of the coun­try’s fu­ture power gen­er­a­tion and leaves the door open for the con­struc­tion of ad­di­tion­al nuc­le­ar fa­cil­it­ies in the is­land na­tion.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushi­ma Daii­chi nuc­le­ar melt­down, Ja­pan shuttered its fleet of nuc­le­ar re­act­ors. Then-Prime Min­is­ter Na­oto Kan pledged that the coun­try would rid it­self of nuc­le­ar power at a time when emo­tions and pub­lic opin­ion op­pos­ing the en­ergy source ran high.

As a na­tion, Ja­pan does not have a bounty of oth­er power-gen­er­a­tion re­sources, and a phaseout of nuc­le­ar has driv­en up elec­tri­city prices and led to in­creased burn­ing of fossil fuels.

All this has paved the way for a cau­tious re­turn to nuc­le­ar. Abe shied away from out­lining spe­cif­ics in his plan, however, and did not say how much of the coun­try’s base­load power gen­er­a­tion is ex­pec­ted to come from nuc­le­ar in com­ing years. The plan is await­ing ap­prov­al from the Ja­pan­ese Cab­in­et be­fore it will take ef­fect.

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