Japan’s new leaders set to work Thursday on dismantling plans to rid the country of nuclear power by 2040, pledging to review a post-Fukushima policy.
The pro-business Liberal Democratic Party-led government also said they would give the green light to any reactors deemed safe by regulators, indicating shuttered power stations could start coming back online.
“We need to reconsider the previous administration’s policy that aimed to make zero nuclear power operation possible during the 2030s,” Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference.
Shinzo Abe, who was elected as prime minister and unveiled his cabinet line-up on Wednesday, appointed Motegi as his economy, trade and industry minister, also in charge of supervising the nuclear industry.
Abe’s LDP won a landslide victory in the December 16 election, returning to power after a three-year break.
Despite anti-nuclear sentiment running high in Japan following the Fukushima disaster, parties opposing atomic energy made little impact at the ballot box.
Motegi said he was ready to give the go-ahead to resuming generation at nuclear power plants “if they are confirmed safe”.
All but two of Japan’s reactors remain offline after being shuttered for regular safety checks following the crisis at Fukushima when a tsunami knocked out cooling systems.
Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless by meltdowns, which spewed radiation over a wide area of farmland.
Power plant operators must get permission from the newly-formed Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) before their reactors can be restarted.
In June then-prime minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the restarting of reactors at Oi amid fears of a summer power shortage, but he vowed ahead of the election to phase out nuclear power by 2040.
Motegi said abandoning Japan’s only reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel at Rokkasho in the far north “is not an option”.
Some experts have warned the plant could sit on an active seismic fault and would be vulnerable to a massive earthquake.
If regulators agree they will have to order its closure and Japan would be without any recycling capacity of its own.
Resource-poor Japan, which relied on atomic power for around a third of its electricity has poured billions of dollars into its nuclear fuel recycling programme, in which uranium and plutonium are extracted from spent fuel for re-use in nuclear power plants.
Trump’s Mt Rushmore speech trashed on CNN for being nonsense straight out of the ‘Hannity universe’
On CNN Saturday, reporter Brian Stelter tore into President Donald Trump's Mount Rushmore speech.
"The president had a chance to deliver one of these unifying messages, especially ahead of Independence Day, but instead he chose to go on the attack," said anchor Christi Paul. "Do you think that was the right strategy and why?"
"It sounded like a Stephen Miller speech," said Stelter. "And that is something that appeals to the parts of the president's base that he really focuses on. This is wartime conservativism [sic], this belief that conservatives are at war trying to protect the country from change."
Trump advisors futilely trying to get him to stop ranting about statues as his re-election prospects collapse: report
According to a report focusing on Donald Trump's rally at Mt. Rushmore on the evening before the 4th of July, advisors to the president ate attempting to get him to start focusing on bread and butter issues that will get him re-elected instead of harping on statues being pulled down by protesters across the country.
As the Daily Beast report illustrates, their efforts appear to be futile based upon his Friday night speech.
With the president trying to fire up the crowd by insisting, “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders. They think the American people are weak, and soft, and submissive,” the Beast reported that Trump, "decided to focus heavily Friday evening on protesters and Black Lives Matter activists who want various American monuments, including those honoring Confederate, white-supremacist, and slave-owning figures of history, torn down and destroyed for good. "
Trump’s a traitor — and the Russian bounty scandal is the final straw
The first story of the rest of Donald Trump's life was published last Friday in the New York Times, revealing that the Russian intelligence agency known as the GRU has been paying bonuses to Taliban fighters to kill Americans, and that this intelligence had been reported to Trump and had been known at least since March. The story was subsequently confirmed by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the AP.
This article first appeared in Salon.