Japan ready to return to nuclear; outlines green roadmap

More than a decade after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country will use nuclear reactors to help reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Japan has become more reliant on Russian gas since shutting down several nuclear reactors after the disaster, which caused substantial damage and disruption to its north-eastern region.

Kishida  said Japan would address the “vulnerability of our own energy self-sufficiency” by broadening where it buys energy from, promoting renewables and using nuclear power to diversify its sources of generation.

“We will utilise nuclear reactors with safety assurances to contribute to worldwide reduction of dependence on Russian energy,” Kishida told an audience in the City of London.

“Restarting just one existing nuclear reactor would have the same effect as supplying 1 million tons of new LNG [Liquified Natural Gas] per year to the global market.”

More than a decade after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, nuclear power remains a difficult issue in Japan, where only a handful of its 30-odd plants are currently operating.

However, the Ukraine crisis and higher energy costs have helped shift opinion: a majority of the Japanese public and businesses now want the government to restart nuclear reactors to address energy security.

Kishida addressed the City with the pro-investment message: “Japan is a buy.”

He said 150 trillion yen ($1.16 trillion) in investment would be raised in the next decade to meet its goals of carbon neutrality by 2050 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030.

He outlined a roadmap to 2030 focused on maximizing use of “pro-growth carbon pricing” and promotion of long-term projects.

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