On October 22, the Japanese Cabinet approved the Sixth Strategic Energy Plan. The first of the major principles stated for implementing the energy policy was the maintenance of a stable energy supply, based on the major premise of safety. It is significant that the importance of S+3E was recognized in that way: namely, maintaining environmental suitability while realizing supplies of energy at low cost, through improved economic efficiency.
Nuclear power was recognized here, too, as an important base-load power source—one that is both low-carbon and quasi-domestic—contributing to the stability of the energy supply-demand structure over the long term, again premised on ensuring safety, as ever. The new plan stated that nuclear energy will be “utilized sustainably, on a necessary scale … in order to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050,” while efforts are made to obtain confidence from the public. That demonstrates that nuclear energy was also viewed as contributing to decarbonizing the energy system, and will continue to be used consistently in that process.
The plan also referred to (1) restarting nuclear power plants (NPPs), prioritizing safety, (2) promoting the nuclear fuel cycle policy, (3) addressing various iss...more
On October 17, Prime MinisterFumio Kishida visited Fukushima Prefecture, which had been struck by a massive earthquake and nuclear accident in March 2011. There, he toured decommissioning sites and elsewhere at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants（NPPs） belonging to the Tokyo Electric Power Co.（TEPCO）
Regarding the release into the sea of water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS-treated water), he told the press that seeing the overwhelming number of storage tanks, he keenly realized the importance of the issue, adding that action could not be postponed.
In April, the former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had decided to release the water into the sea. TEPCO plans to start the release in the spring of 2023.
Referring to opposition to the water release by various local parties, Prime Minister Kishida emphatically said, “Working together with the IAEA, the Japanese government will act transparently and explain the safety of the water from a scientific point of view. We will make full efforts to eliminate concerns.”
Positioning NPPs as an option to supply electri...more
On October 12, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) announced its platform for the general election slated to take place on October 31. It presents the direction for governmental policy, structured on eight pillars: (1) coronavirus measures, (2) “new capitalism,” (3) regional revitalization, (4) agriculture, forestry and fisheries, (5) economic security, (6) diplomacy and security, (7) education, and (8) constitutional revision.
According to an LDP pamphlet describing its 2021 policies, the party actively supports investments in clean energy in the areas of energy and environmental protection, specifically in the following fields: (1) energy conservation, (2) the restart of nuclear power plants (NPPs) whose safety has been confirmed, (3) the promotion of automotive motorization, (4) storage batteries, (5) hydrogen usage, (6) underground small modular reactors (SMRs), and (7) carbon recycling.
Regarding the development of nuclear fusion, meanwhile, the nation will aim for its commercialization as a key next-generation source of stable energy.
In the area of environmental protection in the electricity field, R&D will proceed on technology to recycle early-stage solar panels and lithium-ion batteries.
On October 4, Japan’s new Kishida administration was inaugurated. Appointed to lead the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was Koichi Hagiuda (aged 58, LDP, Lower House), who had held the top post at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for two years during the previous Abe and Suga administrations.
Meeting the press on October 5, the new METI minister emphasized the links between the administration of education and science, on the one hand, and of economy and industry, on the other, saying, “Developing human resources and teaching people to master technology results in industrial growth. Without innovation, no new industries emerge.”
Referring to MEXT’s successful Global and Innovation Gateway for All (GIGA) school program to promote information and communication technology (ICT) in education, Hagiuda expressed his hope that he would be able to “work seamlessly on the creation of an environment encouraging human investment and innovation in industry.”
Meanwhile, toward the restoration of the Japanese economy in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the new minister mention...more
The 65th Annual Regular Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held from September 20 through 24 in Vienna. On the first day—the opening day—Japan’s Minister of State for Science and Technology Shinji Inoue, under the Cabinet Office, delivered a video statement in the general debate. He did the same last year.
Minister Inoue began by praising IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi for his leadership in promoting the Agency’s professional activities despite the hardships of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Inoue also referred to Japan’s support for the Agency’s activities in the area of pandemic countermeasures.
Regarding decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) a decade after the giant earthquake and nuclear accident of March 2011, the minister noted that reviews by the IAEA would be carried out on safety, regulation and monitoring in the matter of water treated with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS: Advanced Liquid Processing System). Water meeting regulatory standards for substances other than tritium will be released into the sea.
Minister Inoue ...more
On September 3, the Japanese government released its new Strategic Energy Plan (Draft) and made it open for public comments. It is significant for identifying the principle of “S+3E”—safety, along with the conventional three E’s of energy security, economy and environmental protection—as the basic viewpoint and major premise of national energy policy.
The draft continues the important recognition demonstrated by previous plans that “nuclear power is an important base-load power source”—a low-carbon, quasi-domestic energy source—“contributing to the stability of the energy supply & demand structure in the long term, on the major premise of ensuring its safety.
In the recent plan, nuclear energy is expected to contribute to decarbonization in the energy system. In order to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050, nuclear energy will be utilized sustainably, on a “necessary scale,” with the major premise of its being safe, while efforts are made to obtain confidence from the public.
Nuclear energy is a reliable, established technology that is very robust in the context of supply stability, economic efficiency, and environmenta...more
On September 14, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) published an English version of the latest White Paper on Nuclear Energy. Given that last March marked a full ten years since the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, the document features the past decade in a section entitled “Fukushima Today,” including verification of the accident, lessons learned, and the recovery and reconstruction of Fukushima
“Who could have imagined,” the White Paper asks introspectively, “the scope of an accident causing such serious damage to people and regional communities for more than ten years?” It cites the problem of “ungrounded rumor and reputation damage,” and urges that those, too, not be forgotten.
It also calls on all people concerned with nuclear energy not only to learn the lessons of the accident, so that no such accident can occur again, but also to “remember the memories” as well as the fact that the negative reputation resulting from the accident remains, inflicting suffering on the people of Fukushima.
The White Paper goes on to say that the issue of ungrounded rumors obstructs recovery and reconstruction. It says that steady efforts are needed by individuals, including “not only prof...more
At its regular meeting on September 15, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) officially finalized the review report on its compatibility examination of the Shimane-2 (BWR, 820MW), owned and operated by the Chugoku Electric Power Co.
The NRA then granted permission to the power company to make changes to the reactor installation (i.e., basic design approval), the 17th such permission granted under the new regulatory standards, and the fifth for a boiling water reactor (BWR).
The application for an examination of Shimane-2 was submitted to the NRA in December 2013, almost at the same time that the Tohoku Electric Power Co. filed its application for the Onagawa-2, for which permission to make changes was given in February 2020. For Shimane-2, the final stage of the examination focused primarily on tsunami countermeasures.
On June 23, the NRA approved a draft review report, saying the unit was compatible with the new regulatory standards. The draft report was then referred to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC...more
On September 15, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan finalized its approval to make changes to the reactor installation at the Shimane-2, owned and operated by the Chugoku Electric Power Co.
Almost 8 years have passed since the application was first filed with the NRA in December 2013. Following similar approval in February 2020 for Onagawa-2 of the Tohoku Electric Power Co. This is the fifth time that the NRA has granted permission for a boiling water reactor (BWR), and the 17th time overall for a domestic nuclear power plant (NPP).
NRA held a total of 184 meetings (as of the end of June 2021) during its examination of Shimane-2. The parties conducted their discussions methodically, including reviews of assumptions regarding earthquakes and tsunami, taking new knowledge and investigative data into account. Based on the results of the meetings, the standard height for tsunami was revised upward from 9.5m to 11.6m, and safety measures were further enhanced accordingly.
From September 6 to 9, Deputy Director General Lydie Evrard of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—and who is also in charge of the agency’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security—met in Japan with officials from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as other agencies and ministries.
The purpose of her visit was to discuss schedules and items to be reviewed. toward the implementation of a review of safety of water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS-treated water) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).
In April, the Japanese government announced its basic policy of releasing ALPS-treated water into the sea beginning in approximately two years. In the future, assessments are to be made of three issues: (1) the characteristics of the water to be released, (2) the safety of the process of releasing the water, and (3) the radiological effects on people and the environment, based on IAEA safety standards.
Given that reviews by the agency are expected to continue for several years, the parties now further agreed that a review team shou...more