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METI leaning toward not including “expansion of nuclear power plants” in new Basic Energy Plan

The government is moving toward not including in its Basic Energy Plan a clear statement on the construction of new power plants and the rebuilding of existing ones. The government is reviewing the plan for the first time in three years, and the incorporation of such a statement has become a focal issue. The current Basic Energy Plan positions nuclear power as a “key baseload energy source” but does not mention creating new plants or expanding existing ones, and the nuclear power industry has been calling for this to be clearly stated in the revised Basic Energy Plan.


The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is leaning toward the view that it is too soon to incorporate such language as creating new plants or expanding existing plants, given the deep-rooted opposition to nuclear power among the public.


At a press conference held after the cabinet meeting on Aug. 1, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko announced that the Basic Energy Plan Review Council will meet on Aug. 9. Seko hinted at the intent not to change the core elements in the plan, saying, “The situation has not changed enough to allow revision to the core structure.”


In 2015, the government decided to take steps to have nuclear power account for 20–22% of Japan’s overall energy mix in fiscal 2030. Seko commented, “If (our existing nuclear power plants) are restarted, we can reach the target without thinking about expanding existing plants or creating new ones.”


At the end of this month, METI will also convene the first meeting of an experts’ committee to consider Japan’s energy policy with an eye on 2050. The meeting apparently will also discuss the need for nuclear power over the medium to long term.


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