Japan PM Shinzo Abe: ‘We Will Build New Nuclear Power Plants’

Abe: New N-plants to be built (The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan 1, 2013)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stated unequivocally for the first time that his government will endorse the construction of new nuclear power plants, while seeking to win over the public on this issue.

“I will take a levelheaded look at what caused the nuclear crisis at [Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s] Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and other factors,” Abe said Sunday on a TBS television program.

“Any new nuclear plant would be completely different from the old Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was constructed 40 years ago,” Abe said. “We will build new nuclear power plants and seek to win the people’s understanding.”

The prime minister said he would look into the factors that led to differing fates among the nuclear plants in the Tohoku region following the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

“The Fukushima No. 1 plant was unable to secure a power source after the tsunami hit, but the Fukushima No. 2 plant was able to successfully deal with [the tsunami],” he said. “[Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s] Onagawa nuclear plant [in Miyagi Prefecture] also [handled the situation well].”

The campaign platform of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party during last month’s House of Representatives election merely stated it would determine “the optimum power-generation makeup” within 10 years. But before taking office last month, Abe said he would review the Democratic Party of Japan-led government’s policy of not permitting new nuclear plants to be built.

During the TV program, Abe said the Japanese people are worried about having sufficient electricity in the immediate future.

“Therefore, parties that called for ‘datsu-gempatsu’ [moving away from nuclear power] or ‘sotsu-gempatsu’ [graduating from nuclear power] were not trusted” in the lower house election, he said.

Abe also expressed an intention to raise the role of renewable energy, saying, “State funds will be put toward the development of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources over the next three years.”

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