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Japan business lobby plumps for atomic power to fight CO2 emissions

In this Jan. 9, 2018 file photo, Hiroaki Nakanishi is seen at a press conference in Tokyo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japan needs to restart idled nuclear plants and build new ones to reduce the country's CO2 emissions and guarantee a stable power supply, Japan Business Federation head Hiroaki Nakanishi declared in a policy statement released at an April 8 news conference here.

The policy noted that, since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster prompted the suspension of atomic power across the country, some 80 percent of Japan's energy supply had been made up of carbon dioxide-emitting thermal generation -- power plants burning gas or coal. It also stated that electricity transmission infrastructure updates needed to make renewable energy more practical and allow it to expand had not been made.

"From the perspective of vastly reducing CO2 emissions as part of global warming countermeasures, Japan must promote the restart or replacement of existing nuclear power stations as well as build new ones, as long as safety can be guaranteed and public understanding obtained," the statement reads. Under present conditions, "Japan's energy system is facing a crisis."

The nuclear fuel holding pool of the No. 4 reactor at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture is seen in this April 8, 2018 file photo. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

The business federation, also known as Keidanren, had not issued an energy policy statement since 2017. The document's content was directed by Nakanishi, who took up the chairman's post in June last year after heading Hitachi Ltd., a nuclear technology maker.

Specifically, Keidanren called for restarting reactors that have passed safety checks and extending their maximum operational lives beyond the current 60 years. The business body also stated that consideration should be given to developing new reactor types.

Meanwhile, Nakanishi also called out the feed-in tariff system for renewables -- in which power companies are compelled to buy green energy at set prices, with the extra costs passed on to consumers -- for being a "burden on the Japanese people." He went on to call on the government to rethink the system and make it easier for businesses to invest in renewable power generation projects.

However, "if the public is willing to accept it, the most realistic policy (to fight climate change) is to increase nuclear power's share of our energy mix," Nakanishi stated.

(Japanese original by Takayuki Hakamada, Business News Department)

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