– No. of Japan’s nuclear plants to be zero in future: Hachiro (Mainichi/Kyodo, September 6, 2011):
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Industry minister Yoshio Hachiro said Tuesday that the number of Japan’s nuclear power plants would be “zero” in the future, based on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s policy of not building new nuclear power plants and decommissioning aged ones.
“Considering the premier’s remarks at press conferences, it would be zero,” Hachiro told reporters in answer to the question whether the number of nuclear plants would reduce to none in the future.
Hachiro added that it would be “difficult” to proceed with plans to build new nuclear plants whose construction has yet to begin, such as Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Kaminoseki plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture. “Public opinion is generally united in reducing (nuclear plants), instead of increasing them,” he said.
As for nuclear power plants whose construction has begun, such as Chugoku Electric’s Shimane plant’s No. 3 reactor in Shimane Prefecture and Electric Power Development Co.’s Oma nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, Hachiro said he intends to make a decision based on discussions at the ministry’s advisory committee on energy and natural resources.
Japan currently plans to set up 12 reactors nationwide, excluding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s No. 7 and 8 reactors, whose construction plan was canceled by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the complex. But construction has not progressed much for most of the projects.
As for the resumption of reactors idled for regular checkups, Hachiro said that Noda has approved a plan to seek safety assessments from the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of the so-called nuclear “stress tests” introduced by the Japanese government given the Fukushima crisis.
Hachiro has said he aims to resume operations of the halted reactors nationwide soon once their safety is thoroughly checked and local municipalities hosting the plants approve their resumption.
Meanwhile, Hachiro admitted that Japan has received an offer from French nuclear power company Areva SA to take charge of spent nuclear fuel at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant, but he did not reveal Japan’s response to the offer.