Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) is considering extending the lifespan of its NPPs beyond the current 60 years to ensure stable energy supplies. Meti recently presented three proposals:

  • To maintain the current safety rules limiting the NPP service period to 40 years in principle – this could be extended by up to 20 years if approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).
  • To simply remove the 60-year cap.
  • To maintain the cap, but exclude periods when plants were offline, such as for screening by NRA or due to court-issued injunctions, and to add those times to the operational periods.

The ministry also suggested that the government should decide 40 years after a plant starts operating whether it can stay online. The decision would be based on stability of electricity supply, contribution to carbon neutrality and voluntary efforts by the operator to upgrade safety.

NRA proposed earlier this month that the safety of nuclear plants older than 30 years, regardless of any life extension is extended, should be checked at least once a decade to obtain approval for continued operation.

Japan's government advocates making maximum use of NPPs to achieve carbon neutrality and ensure stable energy supplies. Meti hopes to decide on a plan this year. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in August that Japan will push ahead with the use of nuclear power to help to achieve net-zero emissions and secure a stable electricity supply.

Image: The No. 2 reactor building of Chugoku Electric Power's nuclear power plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture (courtesy of Kyodo)