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Japan to first aim to cut nuclear reliance to 15% by 2030: draft.

TOKYO, Sept. 7 Kyodo

The government will seek to reduce the country's reliance on nuclear power to 15 percent by 2030 by limiting the operation of existing reactors to 40 years and not allowing utilities to build new ones, a draft paper on its new energy policy showed Thursday.

The draft left blank by what year Japan would aim to achieve zero nuclear reliance after 2030, suggesting the issue still needs further discussions within the government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

The draft also said the government would scrap the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Fukui Prefecture and consider abolishing the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, a government panel that has played a key role in setting strategies on the use of nuclear energy for decades.

The government is working out its new energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster last year, given that its previous strategy calling for increased reliance on nuclear power will not secure public understanding amid strong concern over nuclear safety.

The goal of completely phasing out nuclear power generation is expected to be endorsed at a Cabinet meeting early next week, making it official national policy.

In the draft, obtained by Kyodo News, the government said it will use existing nuclear reactors as an important power source in the meantime as long as they have cleared high-level safety standards and have not operated for more than 40 years.

But it also said that utilities should not be allowed to build new reactors, while reactors that have cleared safety standards could still be scrapped if the country sees less need to rely on nuclear power, such as by increasing renewable energy supply.

By implementing the three principles, the government will reduce the country's nuclear power reliance to below 15 percent by 2030, the draft said.

But it remains uncertain whether the 2030 target means the government will push aggressively for a phase-out of nuclear power, because nuclear reliance would fall to 15 percent simply by abolishing the country's 50 reactors in line with the 40-year operational limit.

In devising the new energy policy, the government proposed to the public three options for nuclear energy's share of total power generation in 2030 -- zero percent, 15 percent and 20 to 25 percent -- compared with 26 percent in 2010.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Sep 10, 2012
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