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Japan’s nuclear policy shift marks a turning point for uranium

Workers at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work among underground water storage pools on April 17, 2013. Credit: Greg Webb / IAEA (Wikimedia CC 2.0)

More than a decade after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan roiled the uranium industry, the country has announced a major policy shift towards restarting idled reactors.

On Aug. 24, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan would restart more suspended nuclear power plants and look at developing next-generation reactors. This represents a significant policy shift amid soaring energy costs, a global fuel shortage, and extreme weather.

According to Kishida, Japan aims to restart seven more reactors from next summer. This would increase the total number of reactors online to 17 out of 33 operable reactors in the country (pre-Fukushima).

Kishida also said that officials would look at extending the lifespan of existing reactors beyond the current maximum of 60 years. Officials have been instructed to come up with concrete measures by year-end.

Nicolas Piquard, VP, portfolio manager and options strategist at Horizons ETFs Management, tells The Northern Miner the reason Japan’s announcement is such a big event is that it highlights how difficult the situation has become for energy grids globally, especially the ones that rely on imported energy sources like liquid natural gas.

“In the year to date, Japan’s capital Tokyo has buckled under two power crunches, with one occurring during a significant heat wave. By restarting its reactors, Japan also hopes to curb its reliance on energy imports,” he said.

Japan’s announcement was more significant than the series of other announcements recently by major economies, including France, the U.S., China and India.

Keep reading at The Northern Miner