Japan: Parliament passes law extending nuclear reactors beyond 60 years

In Japan, Parliament on Wednesday (May 31st) finally approved a controversial bill extending the operating life of nuclear power plants to more than 60 years – compared to 40 years today. This project, which divided the country, also allocates significant budgets to research, with a view to the development of reactors of the new generation.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. REUTERS - MONICAH MWANGI

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It was one of the measures announced by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last summer to revive nuclear power in the country, a few months after the energy shock caused by the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Japan's Nuclear Safety Authority (NRA) gave its approval in February. The law was finally voted on Wednesday, May 31, in order to improve the security of the country's electricity supply and help it achieve its climate goals.

This measure will make it possible to exclude from the total service life periods of reactors due to their compliance with new nuclear safety rules, introduced in Japan after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, or linked to interim court injunctions. The new legislation also requires the NRA to inspect reactors every ten years at least after 30 years of service.

After the nuclear disaster, which was caused by a gigantic tsunami on the north-east coast of the country linked to a very violent underwater earthquake, the entire Japanese nuclear park was shut down. Out of 33 theoretically operable reactors in the country, only 10 have since restarted, after complying with significantly raised safety standards.

Focus on renewable energies

In Japan, the revival of nuclear power is not self-evident, twelve years after the accident that devastated the Fukushima power plant. A narrow majority of respondents – 51 to 53% – approve of the revival of nuclear power. But many more Japanese – 60 to 70% – believe that renewable energies such as wind or photovoltaics, for example, should be preferred. So many sectors where Japan is far behind other major industrialized countries, reports our correspondent on the spot Bruno Duval.


Multiplying power plants in a country that suffers so many earthquakes and after what we experienced in Fukushima, I am not sure that it is very reassuring ", confides this Japanese to the microphone of RFI. "On such a subject, a law passed on the sly, it does not work. There should be a referendum," said another passer-by, not far from a demonstration against the bill. "Nuclear is clean energy. Unlike our coal-fired power plants, which are disastrous for the planet. Restarting reactors will therefore allow us to better fight against global warming," says this Tokyoite.

Currently, nine reactors are in operation in Japan, all located in the west or southwest of the archipelago.


And with AFP)

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  • Japan
  • Nuclear
  • Energies
  • Fumio Kishida