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Nuclear power not priority: Indonesian president-elect Joko Widodo via Mainichi

JAKARTA — Indonesian president-elect and governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo said in an interview with the Mainichi on Aug. 11 that he is not planning to promote nuclear power over other energy sources

Asked about plans for the construction of nuclear power plants in the country, which have effectively been halted since the 2011 onset of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan, Widodo, who begins his presidential term on Oct. 20, said, “There are much better options besides nuclear energy.”

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Along with rapid economic growth, Indonesia has seen energy consumption double in the last decade, making a stable supply of energy an issue of utmost priority for the incoming administration. Widodo pointed out that Indonesia has energy options such as geothermal, coal and natural gas, which would be given precedence over nuclear power generation. At the same time, he stated that cost and efficiency would be taken into account in deciding energy policy — a comment that leaves room for a shift to nuclear power — but also emphasized that careful research and calculations were necessary to assess the risks of a disaster like the one in Fukushima.

Indonesia began making a move toward nuclear power plant construction more than 50 years ago, and at least two sites in the country have been named as candidate hosts. In 2006, Japanese and Indonesian leaders announced in a joint statement at a bilateral summit that Japan would assist in Indonesia’s adoption of nuclear power, and documents to that effect have been exchanged between the two governments.

In June 2011, following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a shift in government policy, saying that fulfilling Indonesia’s electricity needs through non-nuclear power was preferable, and that using nuclear power would be a last-ditch choice. As such, Widodo’s approach to energy — whether he would maintain the direction indicated by Yudhoyono — had been a focus of attention.

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