(Mainichi: October 10, 2015 – p. 5)
Interview by Yoshinori Ogura
Q: What is your position on the reactivation of nuclear plants?
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Motoo Hayashi: The operators will have to decide, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has set very high safety standards. We will promote the reactivation of nuclear plants passing these standards. In case of accidents, while the government has to take full responsibility for evacuation, protection of property, and other matters, it goes without saying that the operators will also have to take responsibility. While we will reduce reliance on nuclear plants, they are needed to a certain extent.
Q: Will you also take this position with regard to the reactivation of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant?
Hayashi: Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida has made various demands (on TEPCO). We will watch how successful he will be. The national government will also need to take steps to obtain the understanding of the local governments and the affected parties after the NRA’s safety standards are cleared.
Q: Any plans to build new nuclear facilities?
Hayashi: The ratio of nuclear power in the total energy mix is set at 20-22% (by FY2030). It will be possible to extend the life span (beyond the normal 40 years) and improve the utilization rate of nuclear plants as long as safety is ensured. At this point, we have no plans to build new ones.
Q: How would you review the system for fixed-price purchase of solar energy and other renewable energies?
Hayashi: Renewable energies will become cheaper. It is important to introduce them without increasing the people’s financial burden. However, we have not decided on how to review the purchase system.
Q: Do you intend to support oil field development projects after sanctions on Iran are lifted?
Hayashi: Iran is a country offering the potential for us to acquire interests, but we also need to consider the economic viability of the projects.