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Japan to Restart Nuclear Reactors to Avoid Russian Gas

Japan will use its nuclear reactors to wean itself off energy from Russia and other sources, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday


Japanese PM Fumio Kishida says Japan will restart nuclear reactors to avoid using Russian gas.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at the Guildhall in London, on May 5, 2022. File photo: Peter Nicholls, Reuters.

 

Japan will use its nuclear reactors to wean itself off energy from Russia and other sources, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday.

In London, to try to attract foreign investment, the Japanese PM said nuclear power would be part of the country’s future energy policy.

Japan has become more reliant on Russian gas since shutting its nuclear reactors after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, in which an earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown, devastating its northeastern region.

But facing elections in July and rising energy prices that are squeezing voters’ budgets, 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 London’s financial district.

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

 

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Fukushima Crisis

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.

But a majority of the public and businesses want the government to restart the nuclear reactors to address energy security, with the Ukraine crisis and higher energy costs having added momentum to that shift in opinion.

Kishida addressed the City of London with the pro-investment messages: “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 maximising use of “pro-growth carbon pricing” and promotion of long-term projects.

 

• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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