TOKYO — As Japan moves to cut back on nuclear power after the disaster last year in Fukushima, it is finding that removing a political liability could lead to a harsh economic reality.
If the country’s 50 nuclear reactors are permanently closed, power companies will be hit with losses totaling ¥4.4 trillion, or $55.9 billion, rendering at least four of them insolvent, according to calculations by the government’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
The extraordinary costs have emerged as a major concern for the Japanese government, which has struggled to balance the desire for improved nuclear safety with the bottom-line realities of the big utilities. Nuclear plants generated about one-third of Japan’s electricity before the Fukushima accident, but most remain at least temporarily offline.
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