Japan will not allow construction of new nuclear power plants under the new energy policy adopted last month, Industry Minister Yukio Edano said on Friday.
He told a news conference in Tokyo that the government would not grant sanction to the Chugoku Electric Power Company to build a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki town in Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan.
Edano said the government's new energy policy rules out construction of new nuclear plants, and that Chugoku Electric's plan is subject to this principle. But power companies can resume work on plant already under construction remaining suspended after last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster. The policy seeks to end Japan's reliance on nuclear power by 2030.
Edano also made it clear that nuclear plants remaining offline since the Fukushima accident could restart if the country's new nuclear regulator confirmed their safety. Plants deemed safe by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) are to be used as an important power source, he added.
But NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka says that although the regulator will judge plant safety, the government and power companies should ultimately seek local consensus before deciding whether to resume plant operations. Japan's 50-odd nuclear reactors are remaining idle since the Fukushima accident.
The cooling system of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was knocked out in the March, 2011 massive tsunami, triggering meltdowns and radiation leaks in the worst atomic disaster since the Chernobil accident of 1986. Tens of thousands of people fled the area, most of which has been designated as a no-entry zone.
by RTT Staff Writer
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