Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he asked for as many as nine nuclear reactors to be online this winter to help with an expected power crunch.
“There are concerns about a power shortage this winter,” Kishida told a news conference Thursday. “We must prevent this situation.”
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will do what they can to push for nine reactors operating in winter, which can cover roughly 10% of Japan’s power consumption, said Kishida. That falls in line with plans from regional utilities, which aim to have that many reactors producing electricity when colder weather hits.
Japan is struggling with tight electricity supplies due to extreme weather, the retirement of older power plants, and delays to restarting nuclear reactors that were shut following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. It is also cutting its use of energy sources from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
While Japan is already facing tight power supplies through the rest of the summer, the upcoming winter is expected to be razor thin.
Kishida has been ratcheting up rhetoric around nuclear power, requesting faster restarts for facilities that have cleared safety reviews. However, Japan’s central government has little ability to actually order a plant to resume operations, since there is a rigorous regulatory process.
Ten of Japan’s 33 operable nuclear reactors had been restarted under post-Fukushima safety rules, though some are offline for maintenance. A further seven units have been cleared by the nation’s nuclear regulator to resume operations but haven’t yet restarted due to required upgrades or lack of local support.