The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Naoto Kan will declare at the forthcoming Group of Eight summit meeting Japan's intention to continue utilizing nuclear power, based on the premise of enhancing the safety of nuclear power plants, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Saturday.
During the G-8 summit of major industrial countries on May 26 and 27 in Deauville, western France, Kan also will express the nation's resolve to expand its utilization of such renewable energy sources as solar and wind power, officials said.
These are among the key points in a speech Kan is scheduled to deliver, which the government has drawn up under the title "Japan's concept for the future of nuclear power and energy policy."
Given that the safety of Japan's nuclear complexes and its energy policy have drawn attention around the world in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Kan is set to declare the nation's energy policy at the outset of the summit, according to the officials.
One pillar of the prime minister's G-8 speech will be the nation's readiness to drastically review its Basic Energy Plan, based on the lessons learned from the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., they said.
First compiled in October 2003 and revised in June 2010, the energy plan was based on the assumption that Japan would boost nuclear power to 50 percent of the nation's entire energy consumption by 2030.
When referring to the recasting of the basic energy plan, Kan will emphasize another pillar of his speech: making the maximum use possible of renewable energy sources, the officials said.
Specifically, Kan will cite plans to build a number of large solar power generation facilities and ease regulations concerning renewable energy development to allow, for instance, wind-power generation within national parks, they said.
To implement these plans, Kan will declare the government's intention to quickly study measures to stabilize costs and supplies of renewable energy, the officials said.
However, in light of the fact that Japan has few natural resources and is in a difficult situation regarding energy security, Kan will clearly declare the nation's determination to pursue the "continued use of nuclear power," they said.
Taking into account ever-intensifying international competition for energy resources, Kan will refer to Japan's intention to move in step with the United States and France, the two G-8 nations that favor the promotion of nuclear power generation.
The prime minister also will make it clear that Japan will stand apart from countries that are moving to denuclearize their energy sources, according to the officials.
As a prelude to this line of policy, Kan will express Japan's pledge to give top priority to ensuring safety when working to expand the use of nuclear power, they said.
Kan also will give an interim report on the Fukushima crisis and the countermeasures taken by the government, and call for understanding from the international community, the officials said.
Regarding organizational reform of supervisory administrative bodies over nuclear power plants, the prime minister will explain plans to overhaul their framework, such as separation of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, which is tasked with promoting nuclear power utilization.
The government believes the G-8 summit speech will be the first in a series of explanations about Japan's nuclear power policy that the prime minister will make in the international arena, the officials said.
Following the G-8 summit, the government will seek further understanding from the international community at a ministerial conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency scheduled for June 20 to 24 in Vienna, they said.
The government is considering sending Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda to the IAEA meeting, the officials said.
(May. 15, 2011)