Japan Says It Will Keep Working on Reactors

Article excerpt

Yukio Edano, the minister for economy, trade and industry, said the government was "not considering changing plans regarding the construction of reactors that have already been approved."

Japan will not stop work on several planned reactors, the trade minister has been quoted as saying, casting further doubt on whether this resource-poor nation would follow through on a contentious plan to phase out nuclear power.

In its announcement of the plan Friday, the government said it would ban the construction of new reactors, although it added that it was possible an exception would be granted for reactors already in various stages of construction. That caveat could allow some reactors to operate decades past the 2040 deadline the government has set for a shutdown. A spokesman said the government did not consider the ban as applying to those reactors, although a final decision would be made by an independent committee.

On Saturday, Yukio Edano, the minister for economy, trade and industry, seemed to strengthen the government's support for eventually allowing plants under construction to begin operating.

The government "is not considering changing plans regarding the construction of reactors that have already been approved," Mr. Edano said, according to The Asahi Shimbun. It was unclear how many reactors he was referring to and whether he was including those in preliminary plans.

The possibility of grandfathering in some plants is important because Japan's energy strategy allows reactors to run for 40 years, and extensions for as long as 20 years beyond that might be allowed. On Friday, a government spokesman left open the possibility that reactors under construction might be permitted to run the full 40 years and be granted extensions, which would mean they would operate far beyond 2040. …