The Japanese government is now looking to delay the planned announcement on the country’s long-term energy strategy, this amid increasing signs of public concern against Japan returning to a dependency on nuclear power. Drafts of this plan were made public in December, and the information was very clear about using nuclear power as a way to “stabilize Japan’s energy supply-demand structure.” The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is known to be supportive of nuclear power, but the public clamor against it may cause problems for the government.
“We are hoping to proceed as soon as possible, but we have received about 19,000 public comments,” said Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday after the regular Cabinet meeting. “We shouldn’t decide on it too hastily,” he said. Abe’s pro-nuclear stance is a sharp opposite to the plan by the previous government to phase out nuclear power, a decision made after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The long-term energy plan of Abe’s administration was set to be made public around the middle of January, but public opinion may give the government pause. Motegi was not clear on the kind of opinions the government had received from the public, but he said that the pause was necessary to add more detail on to the non-nuclear initiatives for thermal energy, including an increase in the use of cheaper natural gas. He said that the government also plans to boost the efficiency of coal-generated power and expand the use of renewable energy.
“We also have to think more about nuclear waste,” Motegi said, touching on one of the biggest concerns of those who are anti-nuclear. Japan’s spent nuclear fuel stockpile is growing, and the government may need to say something firm about the issue if the energy plan is to be supported by the public. Despite Abe’s continued popularity and his ruling party’s pro-nuclear stance, polls show that a majority of the nation remains against the use of nuclear power. In a poll conducted early January by Fuji television, 52% of 1,000 respondents said they support Mr. Abe’s cabinet, but 60% of them said they will oppose any move to restart Japan’s currently idled nuclear reactors.
[via Wall Street Journal]