29 Sep (NucNet): Japan’s prime minister has reaffirmed plans to restart nuclear reactors that comply with new safety standards, saying the country’s dependency on overseas fuels is now greater than it was during the oil shocks of the 1970s.
In a speech in Tokyo, Shinzo Abe referred to the effects of rising energy prices on households and small and medium-sized businesses, and said he supported the planned restart of two reactors at the Sendai nuclear station, owned and operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company.
He said the government would restart reactors recognised by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) as complying with safety standards imposed after the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident.
All of Japan’s 50 commercial reactors are offline while they undergo inspections to make sure they comply with the new safety standards. The standards cover three main areas: design basis safety standards, severe accident measures and safety standards for earthquakes and tsunamis.
Meanwhile, minister for science and technology Shunichi Yamaguchi told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference in Vienna that Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan, approved by the Cabinet in April, positions nuclear energy as” an important base-load power source”.
He said the Japanese government would consider the future share of nuclear power in the energy mix, taking “energy constraints” into consideration, and also looking at energy supply, cost, global warming countermeasures, the maintenance of nuclear technology, and human resources.
He said the NRA had completed its safety conformity review of the two Sendai units and the government is dealing with remaining steps to be taken before it can restart.
Mr Yamaguchi also told the general conference that in April 2015 Japan intends to establish an international research centre on decommissioning.