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Japan Without Nuclear a ‘Disaster,’ Says Former IEA Chief Tanaka

Japan’s failure to resume its atomic plants would be a “disaster” for the country because of its limited alternatives, said Nobuo Tanaka, the International Energy Agency’s former executive director.

Japan’s diminished nuclear capacity makes it especially vulnerable to the potential loss of crude supplies if Iran disrupts shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, Tanaka said at a conference in Tokyo today.

Every one of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors may be shut by late April for scheduled maintenance and safety tests following the radioactive leak at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant that followed the March 11 earthquake.

“The key issue is nuclear in the short term,” said Tanaka, who is now an associate at the government-affiliated Institute of Energy Economics. “This is a huge security risk.”

Tanaka said he has advised government officials to integrate Japan’s electricity grid with Russia’s and South Korea’s to increase the island nation’s diversity of power sources.

Blackouts following the loss of the Fukushima nuclear plant were a result of utilities’ over-reliance on a single power source and their resistance to allowing competing generation companies to access their grids, he said.

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