In an article published recently, The Japan News reported that the government of Japan aims to restart about 10 of the nation’s idle nuclear reactors by this summer. This follows the election, by a wide margin, of former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe as the Governor of Tokyo. Masuzoe is a supporter of Japan’s ruling party, which has been crystal clear about its intentions to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors as soon as the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has cleared them for safety.
The journalist at The Japan News was refreshingly blunt about the election: In the Tokyo election Sunday, candidates who centered their pledges around denuclearization came up short. With the results in mind, a government official said that night, “We’ll move our work [for the energy plan] into full gear.”
The cost to Japan’s economy of keeping the reactors idled can only be described as catastrophic and unsustainable. A recent quote in the Wall Street Journal from Toyota’s CEO named power-supply concerns as one of the big disadvantages facing Japanese industry.
So for me, it’s never been a question of if they would restart but when. As far putting a timeline on it, there have been a lot of predictions from commentators, some more realistic than others. In my opinion, summer seems about right if you look at past comments from Japan’s Nuclear Regulator. The NRA was very clear from the start that the restart applications would take many months due to the quality and quantity of safety checks and evaluations. According to The Japan News article, the earliest expected completion date is April – just a few months from now.
With more reactors under construction now than before Fukushima, demand is going upwards regardless of Japanese intentions. However, ten reactors starting up at a time when multiple uranium projects have stalled or been put on hold can only hasten the timeline for the potential uranium supply crunch that many industry observer have pointed to.
Ted O’Connor, CEO of Azincourt Uranium