Japan’s Kishida pledges to restart idled nuclear power plants

Japanese prime minister’s remarks come as Ukraine war highlights country’s reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says his government plans to restart idled nuclear power plants to enhance the country's energy self-sufficiency [File: Reuters]

Japan will move to restart idled nuclear power plants to make maximum use of nuclear power in order to stabilise energy prices and supply, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.

Tokyo will take “concrete steps” to restart plants that suspended operations after the Fukushima disaster more than a decade ago but is not considering any new facilities, Kishida told parliament on Friday.

“With priority in safety, we will take concrete steps to restart (plants),” Kishida said.

Kishida has pushed for the revival of the country’s nuclear power sector since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed how dependent the world’s third-largest economy has become on imported oil and gas following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Kishida’s remarks came as Tokyo reiterated its commitment to lessening the use of coal power.

Speaking ahead of the release of a Group of Seven communique on climate and energy policy, trade and industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said on Friday Japan would steadily phase out inefficient coal plants towards 2030 in favour of decarbonised thermal power.

“I think what Japan has been advocating through every opportunity so far is percolating” through partner countries, Hagiuda told a news conference, following reports a draft communique suggested countries consider committing to phasing out coal by 2030.

Last year the government said it would aim to cut coal’s share of electricity generation to 19 percent by 2030, compared with 32 percent in 2019.

Japan, which has joined Western countries in sanctioning Moscow over its war in Ukraine, is heavily reliant on energy imports, including from Russia, which last year supplied about four per cent of its crude oil and nine per cent of its gas.

Earlier this month, Japan said it would join a G7 embargo of Russian oil at an unspecified future date after considering how to minimise adverse effects on people’s livelihoods and businesses.

Source: News Agencies