Industry ministry presents draft plan for promoting nuclear energy

Japan’s industry ministry has come out with a draft action plan that would mark a clear departure from the nuclear power policy the government has taken since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

The ministry presented the plan in an online meeting of an advisory panel on Monday.

The plan calls for developing next-generation reactors by utilizing new safety technologies. They could be installed when decommissioned reactors are rebuilt.

The government had repeatedly stated that it would not consider building new reactors or rebuilding old ones.

The draft plan also calls for practically extending the reactor lifespan beyond the current 60-year cap.

The draft calls for maintaining the cap but excludes periods when plants are offline, such as for inspections by regulators or due to court injunctions.

It says such periods would be added to their lifespan.

After the Fukushima disaster, the government revised the law to set the limit.

The ministry plans to draw up an official action plan soon on the basis of the panel’s discussion and talks with the ruling parties.

The plan will be presented at a government conference for achieving a carbon-neutral society, which will likely be held before the year’s end.

The envisioned steps are expected to spark a controversy as they would mark a clear shift in the government’s positions.