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Japan: Formulate Realistic Energy Mix to Put Economy on Track to Recovery
Source: the-japan-news.com
Source Date: Monday, June 27, 2016
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Japan
Created: Jul 05, 2016

It is indispensable to secure a stable supply of low-priced electricity, a task essential for bringing the Japanese economy back on the road to full recovery.

In campaigning for the upcoming House of Councillors election, political parties must show voters realistic energy policies formulated by comprehensively considering such matters related to these measures as their impact on corporations, household finances and the environment.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s election pledge incorporates a plan to effectively use nuclear power generation, positioning it as “an important base-load power source conducive to the stability of energy supply-demand structure.”

Nuclear power generation excels other sources of electricity in generating energy at low cost and stable supply capability. It was reasonable that the LDP as a ruling party stated that nuclear power plants whose safety has been confirmed will be reactivated and used effectively.

We hope the party will endeavor to broaden the public’s understanding of this matter by explaining to them the policy of reactivating only the nuclear power stations that can meet this nation’s safety standards, which command the world’s highest level of strictness.

It is also important to introduce renewable energy whose environmental load is as small as that of nuclear power generation, including solar power and biomass energy. Efforts should be made to promote discussions about how to reinforce the development of technology aimed at overcoming the problems involved in this respect, as shown by the fact that their power supply capacity can be easily affected by the weather.

Komeito has stated it will accept the idea of reactivating existing nuclear power plants while also saying it will seek to build “a society that does not rely on nuclear power generation and abolish nuclear power generation.”

Stable power supply essential

The government has said it will strive to ensure the percentage of nuclear power generation accounts for 20 to 22 percent of the nation’s total electricity output in fiscal 2030. However, it should be noted that more than a few existing obsolete nuclear power plants are supposed to be decommissioned. In pursuit of the target figure, the LDP and Komeito should clearly accept new and additional nuclear power station construction.

The opposition Democratic Party has stated it will seek to “inject all policy-related resources so nuclear power generation will be abolished in the 2030s,” the election promise repeatedly advocated since the 2012 House of Representatives election. The DP has called for strictly applying the regulation aimed at limiting the operational period of each nuclear power plant to 40 years, while also saying it will not accept new and additional nuclear power station construction.

However, the DP’s election pledge is not clear as to what kind of measure would be taken to secure alternative power sources. Although the party calls for promoting the consumption of electricity locally generated through renewable energy sources, it will not be realistic to use renewable energy as the main source of power, given that such energy’s supply capacity is unstable.

The Japanese Communist Party has insisted on making a political decision to abolish nuclear power generation, by following the example of Germany, which is advancing its switch to renewable energy with a view to breaking away from nuclear power generation.

However, Japan and Germany differ greatly in their energy situations. If an electric power shortage occurs, Germany can be supplied with electricity from neighboring nations, while Japan must cover such a short supply on its own as an island nation.

Since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, such parties as the Democratic Party of Japan, the DP’s predecessor, and the JCP have insisted on abolishing nuclear power generation. It cannot be said that their assertion, which could give rise to an increase in electricity charges and undermine a stable power supply, has widely gained the support of people.

It is essential to discuss reasonable policies that entail a mix of diverse power sources, including nuclear and thermal power generation as well as renewable energy.

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