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23 January, 2020

Finishing Mission in Japan, IAEA’s IRRS Points Out Importance of NRA’s Communicating with Nuclear Industry

On January 21, an eight-day scheduled mission to Japan was concluded by the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), a team of experts sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Team leader Ramsey Jamal, vice president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), held a press conference on the same day with Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

The IRRS mission this time was a follow-up to review Japan’s responses to the recommendations and suggestions (thirteen each) made by the original mission in January 2016. According to IAEA guidelines, a follow-up mission must be implemented some two to four years after the initial main mission has been completed. The final report of the follow-up mission will be released in three months or so. Along with the recommendations and suggestions mentioned above, IAEA’s previous mission to Japan four years ago cited the country for two good practices. In response, the NRA formulated measures to deal with relevant issues, and has been working on responsive activities, including reviewing its inspection system and revising various regulations related to reinforcing the regulation of radiation s...more
21 January, 2020

Evacuation Orders for Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka Towns to Be Partially Lifted in March, with JR Joban Line to Be Completely Reopened for Service

On January 17, the Japanese government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters decided to partially lift in March evacuation orders for Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka Towns in Fukushima Prefecture. The orders were issued in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).

The chair of the headquarters, Yohei Matsumoto, state minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), had been meeting with local government officials, and came to an agreement with each of them at the end of December. This will be the first lifting of evacuation orders in Futaba since the restrictions were originally imposed. In Futaba, the order for the area already designated as places “where evacuation orders will soon be lifted”—affecting 229 residents in 75 households (as of April 2019)—will be lifted on March 4. At a symposium held in Tokyo in December, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa noted that ensuring employment was an issue of high priority, while working toward the target of getting residents back into their homes by the spring of this year. The town, he said, ha...more
16 January, 2020

Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Capacity Factor Stood at Just 21.4 Percent Last Year

According to data gathered by Atoms in Japan (AIJ) from all the power utilities in Japan, the capacity factor for all nuclear power plants (NPPs) nationwide in 2019 stood at just 21.4 percent. The total generated electricity by all the companies was 68.5TWh.

After the tsunami-caused accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs in March 2011, the full-year nationwide capacity factor hit zero in 2014, owing to the across-the-board suspension of NPP operation. Thanks to the gradual restart of those suspended plants, the capacity factor figure was able to recover to the level of 20 percent recorded in 2019. Although no further NPPs were restarted last year, the total generated electricity in Japan actually increased 33.1 percent from the previous year, on account of the suspension of operations at several plants stemming from court decisions. In September 2019, operations officially ceased at the Fukushima Daini-1 to -4 NPPs, owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). Five months earlier, in April, operations also ended at the Genkai-2 NPP, ow...more
26 December, 2019

IEEJ’s Supply-Demand Outlook for FY2020 Looks at Effect of Specific Safety Facility Installation Deadlines

On December 23, 2019, the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) released a report entitled “Economic and Energy Outlook of Japan for FY2020,” referring to the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2020. According to the report, Japan’s domestic primary energy supply is expected to decline year-on-year by 0.4 percent in both the current fiscal year 2019 (ended March 31, 2020) and the coming fiscal year 2020, due to reduced production in manufacturing and progress in energy conservation, while economic activities should expand modestly. Looking specifically at nuclear power, no nuclear power plants (NPPs) were restarted in FY19, with domestic energy supply put at 61TWh, down 1.8 percent. In FY20, although four NPPs are expected to be restarted, three will be suspended, because facili...more

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