The business environment in Japan has worsened significantly since the Fukushima Daiichi accident in March 2011, and there continues to be a 'deep concern' for the future of the nuclear industry, according to the results of a recent survey carried out by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF).
Almost two thirds of the companies that responded to the November survey said that the effects of prolonged nuclear power plant shutdowns had led to a reduction in their sales in fiscal year 2013. Some 59% said that sales had fallen by more than 20%, which JAIF says demonstrates a deep concern for the industry.
In addition, 90% of respondents described their business confidence in Japan's nuclear power industry as bleak. Almost half said they expected sales to decrease in FY2014, and 83% postulated that they would be flat or decrease in FY15.
In contrast, nuclear-related expenditures by the country's electric power companies increased by 1% to JPY1508.3 billion ($12.7 billion) in FY13 compared with FY12. Nuclear related expenditures accounted for around 8% of the EPCs' total spending. Of the nuclear-related expenditures, JPY206 billion ($419 million) or 31% was related to meeting new regulatory standards. Power company spending on land, buildings and structures increased by a hefty 123%, while spending on O&M fell by 35% and fuel cycle expenditures dropped 22%.
The survey found a slight (4%) increase in the number of nuclear-related workers both at power companies and in the mining/manufacturing sector, bringing the number employed to 48,577. However JAIF expressed concerns over the effects of the prolonged shutdown on future employment.
Responses also highlighted concern about declining technological capabilities across the Japanese nuclear sector as a result of extended nuclear plant closures, JAIF said. Nearly half of the respondents said that they expected government support for R&D, while 28% called for support maintaining their technological capabilities, including the utilisation of existing plants and training facilities.
JAIF distributed questionnaires to 446 private companies in Japan that have nuclear-related expenditures, sales and workers. It received valid responses from 263 of them (11 electric power companies, 240 mining and manufacturing companies and 12 trading companies). A summary of the survey results can be found on the JAIF website.