Japan not eyeing new reactors to help reach 2050 carbon-neutral goal

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gives his first policy speech in parliament as an extraordinary session opens in Tokyo, Japan October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is not considering building new nuclear power plants to help it become carbon-free by 2050, the government’s top spokesman said on Wednesday.

For the world’s fifth-biggest emitter, reining in emissions from utilities that contribute about 4/5ths of carbon dioxide output is key to achieving the deadline set by its new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga.

“At this stage we are not considering the construction of additional nuclear power plants,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a regular news briefing.

The government is reviewing energy policy, looking to use renewable energy sources and existing nuclear plants that can be operated safely, he added.

Suga unveiled the 2050 goal after Japan said it aimed to be carbon-free sometime in the second half of the century, which brings it in line with the European Union.

“We will look at all possibilities, including renewables and nuclear,” Suga said later, replying to a question in parliament, but did not say if that included building new reactors or not.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Clarence Fernandez