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Policy calls for new reactors at plants where shelf life is issue

The No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture in 2022. The other two reactors are in the process of decommissioning. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The government is backtracking on the issue of where to build new nuclear reactors.

It is now set to limit construction of new facilities at sites where a reactor has reached the end of its operating lifespan, retreating from its original proposal made last month that did not question where they would be built, sources said.

The change in the draft basic policy, which is aimed at weaning Japan off fossil fuels and making greater use of green energy, was made in response to safety concerns voiced by lawmakers in Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party.

The initial proposal did not mention restrictions on facilities.

That left open the possibility that an electric utility could add a new reactor to a plant of its choice if it decides to decommission an aged unit at a separate site.

Komeito, which has many members wary about continued reliance on nuclear energy, called for the draft basic policy to use wording suggesting the constrained use of nuclear power.

The government intends to seek Cabinet approval for the basic policy to achieve its so-called green transformation by the end of February by removing potential stumbling blocks to its timetable, the sources said.

But opposition to the change in the revised draft proposal has also arisen from a pro-nuclear group of LDP lawmakers.

They insist that each electric power company should be allowed to choose which of its nuclear plants can add a reactor when one of its units shuts down permanently, regardless of location.

Source: Asahi Shimbun