Japan launches energy policy review amid global push for greener power

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan on Tuesday launched its latest three-yearly energy policy review, with the country grappling with a need to cut greenhouse gas emissions even as the public remains wary over nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster.

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

In its last review in 2018, Japan kept its targeted mix of power sources for 2030 in line with goals set three years earlier, with renewables accounting for 22-24%, nuclear 20-22%, and fossil fuels 56%.

But for the year ended March 2019, fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal accounted for 77%, while renewables came to 17% and nuclear 6%.

Many experts view the nuclear target as difficult to achieve in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which led to a big shift in public opinion.

“Securing stable energy supply and making a decarbonised society, while considering energy costs, are key issues when we discuss energy policy,” Hiroshi Kajiyama, the industry minister, told a news conference.

“No conclusion has been drawn in terms of energy mix. We hope to hear various views from members of a panel and to see active discussions,” he said.

As the panel of experts under Kajiyama’s ministry met on Tuesday to start the review, many expressed a desire to boost renewable energy and set a clear long-term policy on nuclear power.

Japan aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% from 2013 levels by 2030, but its environment ministry warned in July the electricity industry, which accounts for 40% of its CO2 emissions, will miss its 2030 reduction target.

Only two nuclear reactors are currently operating in Japan, with several shut for maintenance and many others still undergoing a re-licensing process under new safety standards imposed after Fukushima.

The discussions are expected to continue through next year.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Jan Harvey