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Japan not eyeing new nuclear plants despite energy concerns

From front right, reactors No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. are seen in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Koichiro Tezuka)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's industry minister said Tuesday the country is not considering building any new nuclear power plants despite mounting energy security concerns.

    Last week, the industry ministry compiled an interim report on a clean energy strategy for achieving a carbon neutral society. The report mentioned the reactivation of nuclear power plants to ensure energy security, while keeping operational safety at the forefront.

    "Taking into account the Ukraine crisis and concerns over a power supply crunch, we will make the most of what we have, including nuclear power," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said at a press conference, adding that efforts will also be directed at developing a new type of nuclear reactor as well as talent.

    Meanwhile, calls are growing within the nation's industrial sector for clarification of the role of nuclear power as more reactors approach their 40-year operating limits and face other regulatory hurdles, leaving their fate increasingly uncertain.

    On Monday, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, an industry ministry body, to clarify the status of nuclear power in the government's energy strategy and called for the swift resumption of idled nuclear reactors.

    Currently, only 10 of the country's 36 nuclear power plants have resumed operation under stricter safety regulations introduced after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

    The government's latest energy plan, unveiled last year, calls for nuclear power to be kept at 20 to 22 percent of Japan's total power generation capacity in fiscal 2030, with renewables accounting for 36 to 38 percent, in an effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

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