Ice bucket challenge catches on in S. Korea, trend so far bucked

Japan set for summer energy deficits with all nuclear plants offline

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Published : 2012-03-27 20:47
Updated : 2012-03-28 08:32

Japan is bracing for a 10 percent energy deficit this summer, with all its 54 nuclear power stations possibly set to be offline from May.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, Noriyuki Shikata, Japan’s deputy cabinet secretary for public affairs, said that the country could cope with the estimated difference between energy demand and supply, and had been importing more fossil fuels. 
He said that although some power plants could go back into operation before summer: “It is true our energy supply and demand is pretty tight.” 
He added: “The government is preparing itself to come up with measures.”

He said that the challenge would be difficult but not insurmountable, going on last summer’s power usage following the Fukushima nuclear disaster -- when businesses and citizens met the government’s request to cut energy consumption by 15 percent.

Japan’s nuclear reactors have remained out of action amid safety fears following the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami last March.

The Japanese government has said it is reviewing safety and security measures at all of its plants, but has not yet said when they might be restarted.

Most recently, Tokyo Electric Power Co. shut down its No. 6 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex in Niigata prefecture on Monday, and the country’s last operational reactor on the island of Hokkaido is expected to be suspended by early May.

And the Seoul delegation said they thought it would be difficult to build new nuclear power plants in Japan.

“After 3/11 we are reviewing our policy and Prime Minister Noda has been saying it is difficult to build new nuclear power plants in Japan,” he said. “It is expected that Japan will depend less on nuclear power than before.”

But even while its own power stations are offline, Japan is still seeking to export its civil nuclear technology to other countries, as it had been looking to do in countries such as Vietnam before last year’s disaster.

“Japanese companies have very competitive technology and there have been innovations taking place,” Shikata said. But he admitted that it was politically difficult to build power plants at this juncture.

He and Yutaka Yokoi, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs press secretary, said that the country had taken measures to over come vulnerabilities at its nuclear facilities and strengthened anti-terror security measures.

By Kirsty Taylor (kirstyt@heraldcorp.com)

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