On February 24, a panel of nine experts and specialists, including Dr. OKA Yoshiaki, former chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), released a report on energy dominance, toward discussions of a Seventh Strategic Energy Plan.

SUGIYAMA Taishi, research director of the Canon Institute for Global Studies (CIGS) and a past contributor to various governmental councils, was responsible for the overall compilation of the report.

The report concludes with an 11-item proposal to establish “energy dominance,” a concept of securing a supply of abundant, affordable, stable energy for Japan so that it can be strong and affluent. The proposals include one that urges that numerical targets for power rates be reduced to their levels prior to the giant earthquake of 2011 (officially named the Great East Japan Earthquake).

Meanwhile, in terms of energy supply and demand, the report calls for the maximum use of nuclear energy (setting a long-term target of 50% in the energy mix), along with the stable use of fossil fuels unencumbered by CO2 emissions regulation.

The report also focuses on the cost reduction efforts and the regulatory systems related to the introduction of renewable energies and energy conservation, as well as the effects of accelerating the promotion of EVs on Japan’s automobile industry.

Regarding international commitments, meanwhile, it refers to the need to establish “an energy dominance agreement to replace the Paris Agreement.”

Under Japan’s current energy policy, says the report, costs are “unsustainably high” because of restrictions stemming from extreme targets for CO2 emissions reductions, as well as intolerant, ideologically imposed technological power-source selections favoring solar and wind, EVs, and the like.

The report particularly points out the disadvantages of solar power, describing it as “intermittent” and subject to weather conditions. It also says that based on the experience of several recent natural disasters, there is the problem of solar power continuing to be generated even when the power system is damaged, leading to secondary risks caused by electric shock and more. It recommends that the mass introduction of solar power be halted.

The report goes on to say that the human risk per unit of electricity generated is lowest with nuclear power. It emphasizes the need to bring about the early restart of nuclear power plants (NPPs), the extension of NPP operating lifetimes, and investment in building new and replacement reactors toward the development of stable supplies of affordable, safe energy.

At the same time, it expresses concern that safety regulation and disaster prevention lack a sense of balance, and that the concept of risks and benefits is missing in the pursuit of just “zero risk.”

Conversely, it cites the real risks stemming from energy insecurity as well as the disadvantages to the national economy of not using nuclear energy, and suggests the need to further deepen discussions on future strategic energy plans.

It has been 13 years since the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi. Regarding recent circumstances surrounding nuclear power, the report says that “it is time to address medium- and long-term issues, in addition to examining individual cases,” given the prolonged suspensions of boiling water reactor (BWR) plants and the adverse effects of sharp hikes in electricity rates domestically.