Under the current legal system, Japan’s energy policy is required to be reviewed every three years, but the first review after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster infers radical changes in the near future for the nuclear industry in-country, and around the world. The government “will formally decide at an energy and environment meeting this weekend” to stop the use of nuclear, the Mainichi Shumbun said. Government officials also noted that Japan is rushing to finalize the new energy policy and communicate it to the United States after Washington showed “strong interest in Japan’s atomic energy policy.”
Japan’s draft new energy policy will mark the beginning of the end of nuclear energy in Japan, halting all of the country’s nuclear reactors by the 2030s, but the zero-nuclear policy does not necessarily imply the immediate abandonment of the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle policy altogether. The draft adds that reprocessing plants for spent nuclear fuel in Aomori Prefecture will continue to operate, and the government will find a location for final disposal of nuclear waste. It also notes the fast-breeder reactor Monju in Fukui Prefecture will be converted and used for research on matters including ways to reduce nuclear waste.
The draft includes new guidelines restricting the lifespan of nuclear reactors to 40 years, restricts restarting plants not confirmed safe by the nuclear regulatory panel, and bans the construction of new or additional reactors.
The draft says nuclear reactors confirmed safe will be allowed to continue operating until all demand for electricity can be met without nuclear plants, but some have pointed out that this conflicts with the fact that Japan has not been subjected to wild mass blackouts since shutting down its nuclear power plants, leaving the real issue still undefined.
Source: Associated Free Press