Japan is considering extending the maximum service period for its nuclear reactors beyond 60 years due to anticipated public opposition to the construction of new plants, sources close to the matter said Thursday.
The government is seeking to make long-term use of existing nuclear plants rather than building new ones or replacing reactors, as sought by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and some business circles.
But such an extension could spur concerns about the safety of aging reactors that are prone to accidents.
Following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan introduced stricter safety standards limiting the operation of nuclear reactors to 40 years in principle.
But operation for an additional 20 years is possible if safety upgrades are made and a reactor passes screening by regulators.
The government plans to submit a bill to amend the law regulating nuclear reactors to the ordinary Diet session next year.
It will also discuss inspection and assessment methods to determine whether a reactor should be approved to operate for more than 60 years, referring to cases abroad such as in the United States where they can operate for up to 80 years.