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Editorial: Moves to reconstruct nuclear power plants unacceptable via Mainichi

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Legal revisions that came into effect after the Fukushima disaster have put a 40-year cap on the operational life of nuclear reactors. If no extension was allowed, the power generation capacity at nuclear plants across the country will be halved in 2030 before being reduced to zero in 2049. If rebuilding of nuclear plants is given approval, however, they will manage to persist well into the future.

In the basic energy plan approved by the Cabinet in April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration pledged to “lower the dependence on nuclear power as much as possible,” while calling nuclear energy an “important base load power source.” The possible move to approve nuclear plant reconstruction indicates that the administration’s real intentions lie in a “U-turn to nuclear power dependence.”

The existing nuclear plants boast a number of merits including cheaper fuel costs compared to thermal power plants, lower carbon dioxide emissions and stable energy security compared to oil and natural gas, the supply of which relies upon the politically unstable Middle East region. Realistically, it would be difficult to abolish all nuclear reactors immediately.

However, the “safety myth” that surrounded nuclear power before the Fukushima crisis has fallen apart and the danger posed by nuclear energy to people’s lives remain. We have yet to find a place to dispose of spent nuclear fuel. The government should seek to abolish nuclear plants saddled with insurmountable problems at the earliest date possible. Approval of nuclear plant reconstruction, which runs counter to that ideal, should never be tolerated.

If nuclear plants are to be allowed to continue existing in the future, the country’s efforts heretofore toward a breakaway from nuclear power reliance would be spoiled.

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