Japan adds nuclear pain to Australian LNG


From the FT:

The government of Shinzo Abe is poised to declare its long-term commitment to nuclear energy, reversing the previous administration’s decision to shut all of Japan’s atomic plower plants after the Fukushima disaster.

More than a year after Mr Abe took office vaguely promising to “rethink” Japan’s post-Fukushima repudiation of nuclear power, the draft of a Basic Energy Plan was made public, calling nuclear an “important baseload electricity source”.

The volte face will provide a big fillip for the nuclear energy industry, which has been hard hit by a worldwide rethink of civilian atomic power prompted largely by the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi power station in 2011.

The restart of Japan’s reactors could also have huge implications for world energy markets. Japanese imports of liquefied natural gas shot up after it closed its nuclear plants down, pushing up the price of LNG in Asian and European markets. Any moderation in Japanese demand could take some of the heat out of the global LNG market.

So far, Mr Abe’s efforts to salvage Japan’s nuclear industry have focused mostly on the short term. The prime minister is supporting efforts by electricity utilities to restart about a dozen of the 50 still usable reactors, all of which are shut pending safety reviews. That effort still faces hurdles and any restarts must be approved by safety regulators and local governments.

However, the new Basic Plan, expected to be approved by Mr Abe’s cabinet by the end of March, could open the door to a broader nuclear revival, possibly even including the construction of new reactors. Though polls show a majority of Japanese remain antagonistic to atomic power after Fukushima, there are pockets of support in some areas that are home to plants, which bring jobs and subsidies.

Perhaps now we understand why Japan has been so aggressive about LNG pricing…

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. interesting to see a bottom in on asx U equities, bit of games being played but money will flow soon enough

  2. The Fukushima reactor continues to leak contaminated water. Abe can declare all he wants, however Japanese public will not support it until there is a fix for Fukushima. It should be entombed. There is also the problem of decommissioning old 1960s style nuclear reactors : where are they going to put the waste material?

    I would love to see Australia put its hand up and operate a nuclear waste dump for the entire world. All those 1960 styles nuclear reactors are ticking time bombs.

    • “…..I would love to see Australia put its hand up and operate a nuclear waste dump for the entire world……”

      Charging commensurately for the service of course. This is an interesting avenue for countries with oodles of useless space to make some money out of it.

      • You can’t charge enough for a service like this.

        The risk lasts so long that you can’t take the credit risk, not even on governments, so you would have to get the price up front and that makes it uneconomic for the nuclear industry.

        Australia ought remain a strict “you buy it, you make it highly radioactive, you keep it” country.

      • restarting the reactors is a knee jerk reaction and a bandaid solutions to the pollution problem in china,

        I regularly look at the quality of air through out china and I would assume when the people are faced with the option of cleaning the air by any means possible or burning of fossil fuels and killing everyone.

        the problems not going away and there is no silver bullet, and when the people come to decide what they want…. they won want to live under smog and the storey they will be sold is one of a cleaner future, safer and cheaper.

        and if you think the people are that smart, look at what our government gets away with.

      • Re: Snakeye. Restarting the reactor is not for reason of air quality. The LNG import is causing Japan to run a current account deficit, and become totally reliant on foreign energy import.

        Beyond making a lot of money, a nuclear waste storage center will be a service to humanity. Something must be done about all those nuclear waste out there. Many old nuclear reactors built in the 1960s are still operating only because they cannot find a place to dump the nuclear rods. Australia is the ideal place to store it for a few reason : there is a lot of uninhabited space, we’re stable politically, we have the technology to support it, and we don’t pose a geographic threat to anyone.

        This is not too far-fetched. A Spanish company already have plans to build one in NT.


        Getting over political objections however will be difficult.

    • A couple of months back I was in Japan meeting with some Japanese business heavy hitters, they made it very clear at the time that something had to be done about setting Japan back on a course toward affordable electricity. The best option was continued Nuclear the second best option was Coal……and then there was LNG running a very distant third.

      Sure this is a short term cost optimization but if you dont take care of the short term and keep your industry efficient / productive what difference does it make what your long term prognosis is?

  3. Wise move by Abe. Japan needs cheap base load power generation, just like Australia.

    Bottom line, nuclear is in fact safe;


    There were no casualties officially reported to be caused by radiation exposure. However, Masao Yoshida, the former Fukushima supervisor of damage control who was among the Fukushima 50 died of esophageal cancer in July 2013. There is some dispute as to whether this was due to his radiation exposure during the 2011 event. For perspective, there were 29 deaths (occurring within 2 months) associated with radiation exposure at the nuclear event in Chernobyl in 1986.

    Predicted future cancer deaths due to accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be extremely low to none.[37] However workers involved in mitigating the effects of the accident do face minimally higher risks for some cancers.”


    • The ignorance of the average punter on the safety of nuclear power is embarrassing.

      Zero people died from the Fukishma melt down.

      Nuclear power is the safest form of power. Please see Pandora’s Promise http://pandoraspromise.com/

      The only reasons Australia doesn’t have a nuclear energy program is only due to the silly ludditism of the Australians.

  4. One of the funny things about radiation is that there are quite a few spots that are natually highly radioactive.

    E.g. Guarapari’s beach in Brazil and tourist sport where you get 175 mSv (millisieverts) per year. But they exacuated the area around Fukishma that was above 20 mSv per year!