Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday Japan will restart idled nuclear plants and consider developing next-generation reactors, in a policy reversal that will see the nation turn back toward atomic energy as fuel prices soar worldwide.
Kishida told reporters he had instructed officials to come up with concrete measures by the end of the year.
The move is a significant shift for Japan, which has dialed back its use of nuclear power since 2011, when a tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake sent water crashing into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant – leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Since then, the public has been skeptical about nuclear power and Japan has made strict safety updates at plants throughout the country.
In recent years the country has also imported greater amounts of natural gas and coal to meet its energy needs.
But Kishida has renewed calls to reduce its dependency on these fuels, and outlined plans for Japan to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 while at the Cop 26 summit last year.
More recently, increases in fuel prices, partly due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, have prompted the government to announce more energy-saving measures.
In late June, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry urged residents to conserve electricity.
As of July 26, Japan had seven operating nuclear reactors, with three others offline due to maintenance, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.