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16 June, 2021

LDP Parliamentary Association to Reconfirm Position on Utilization of Nuclear Power

On June 14, Japan’s Parliamentary Association for the Promotion of Stable Supplies of Electricity met to hear from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE), under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), on the state of deliberations on the next Strategic Energy Plan. The group is voluntarily formed by members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and chaired by Hiroyuki Hosoda(former Chief Cabinet Secretary).

In late April, the association had proposed to the government that it include the maximum utilization of nuclear power in the next Strategic Energy Plan. Since then, however, it omitted the expression “maximum utilization,” and a political battle has been shaping up within the government.

At the scheduled meeting on April 14, the association heard about various developments since it first submitted its proposal earlier the same month, and reiterated its position on the importance of nuclear power.

In its proposal, the association asked for a revision to the government’s policy in the current Strategic Energy Plan of “decreasing dependency on nuclear power to the maximum extent possible,” and calls for the showing of a medium-to long-range nuclear vision.

Among other items, the proposal includes multiple extensions of reactor operating lifetimes, the exclusion of lengthy suspensions for inspections, and improvements to the efficiency of compatibility examinations by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) under the new regulatory standards.

Referring to the necessity of constructing new and replacement nuclear power plants to improve safety and efficiency, the association also asked for measures to ensure investment in new power sources. Anticipating that a draft of the next Strategic Energy Plan would be formulated after the long holiday in early May, the association had submitted its proposal in April.

Meanwhile, the Strategic Policy Committee—which falls under the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy and is the main player on this issue—has not convened for about a month since its most recent meeting. With the recent G7 summit in mind, it had tried to present a text for the Strategic Energy Plan and propose a 2030 energy mix at a meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee in early June, but was unable to do so.

The calibration of the various groups’ positions regarding nuclear power and renewable energies has seen rough passage. At a planned meeting on June 14, the Parliamentary Association for the Promotion of Stable Supplies of Electricity strongly urged that the maximum utilization of nuclear power be incorporated into the next Strategic Energy Plan.

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