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Japan's PM suggests country build new nuclear power plants


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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida suggested Wednesday that his country looks into building new, safe, and small nuclear reactors in order to meet energy goals.

Japan is currently targeting 2050 as a deadline for becoming carbon-neutral, and Kishida said the country has to explore multiple sources of energy to achieve that goal, particularly due to rising energy costs.

“In order to overcome our imminent crisis of a power supply crunch, we must take our utmost steps to mobilize all possible policies in the coming years and prepare for any emergency,” Kishida said at a “green transformation” conference.

This would be a significant change for Japan, as the country shut down many nuclear plants after an earthquake and a tsunami led to a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011.

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FILE - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Aug. 10, 2022. Kishida said Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022 he has instructed his government to consider developing safer, smaller nuclear reactors, signaling a renewed emphasis on nuclear energy years after many of the country's plants were shut down. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on Aug. 10, 2022. Kishida said Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022 he has instructed his government to consider developing safer, smaller nuclear reactors, signaling a renewed emphasis on nuclear energy years after many of the country’s plants were shut down. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP, File)
(The Associated Press)

Japan’s Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura discussed the country’s need “to secure all options to redesign a stable energy supply for our country,” and that with this in mind “we will also consider all options regarding nuclear power.”

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Kishida said that he has seen proposals for “new innovative reactors designed with new safety mechanisms.”

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, an installation of a dome-shaped rooftop cover housing key equipment is near completion at Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Dai-ich nuclear power plant ahead of a fuel removal from its storage pool in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeast Japan.  Japan has partially lifted an evacuation order in one of the two hometowns of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant for the first time since the 2011 disaster. The action taken Wednesday, April 10, 2019, allows people to return about 40 percent of Okuma. The other hometown, Futaba, remains off-limits as are several other towns nearby.(AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi, File)

FILE – In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, an installation of a dome-shaped rooftop cover housing key equipment is near completion at Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Dai-ich nuclear power plant ahead of a fuel removal from its storage pool in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeast Japan.  Japan has partially lifted an evacuation order in one of the two hometowns of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant for the first time since the 2011 disaster. The action taken Wednesday, April 10, 2019, allows people to return about 40 percent of Okuma. The other hometown, Futaba, remains off-limits as are several other towns nearby.(AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi, File)

Toyoshi Fuketa, commissioner of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Authority indicated that the country would need time to be ready to use the new technology. He told reporters that they currently do not have safety standards for the next-gen reactors and that it could take upwards of one year to put standards in place. 

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Opponents of new nuclear reactors are worried that it would be expensive, given the need to account for waste management and storage. They also fear another accident like the one in 2011, as well as a possible attack in light of Russia targeting a Ukrainian plant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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