Japan’s Ruling Parties Seek Clean Energy Target

Japan’s ruling parties want clean energy to make up “significantly” more than 20 percent of the nation’s power by 2030.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition party New Komeito have been reviewing a draft of the country’s long-term energy policy plan presented by the government in February.

The parties agreed that they want the target to be included in the final plan, said Taku Yamamoto of the LDP at a briefing yesterday. Their goal uses a stronger expression than the “more than 20 percent” target suggested by officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Yamomoto said.

It is not certain if the parties’ suggestion will be included in the energy policy unchanged. Yamamoto said a requested meeting with the trade minister to discuss the wording has not taken place.

Japan’s environment minister Nobuteru Ishihara said that the country should clearly state the clean energy target of 30 percent by 2030 in the plan, Kyodo News reported yesterday. The ministry issued a statement after the remark was made saying the target the minister mentioned is something that should be considered after the energy plan is completed.

The original draft of the energy plan does not include targets for any types of energy sources such as nuclear and gas. The Komeito party, which has been campaigning to include a clean energy target, wants something that shows Japan’s will to reduce its dependency on nuclear, Tetsuo Saito of the junior coalition partner said.

Nuclear Share

Japan had envisaged in its 2010 plan that nuclear would generate 53 percent of its power by 2030. Those targets were put on hold after the 2011 Fukushima disaster as Japan reviewed its energy policies amid public opposition to nuclear power and plants were idled. Clean energy was to supply 21 percent.

The government has set incentives for solar and wind power generation, even as the resource-poor nation’s energy import bill has risen sharply since the shuttering of its atomic plants.

Before the Fukushima accident, nuclear provided more than a quarter of Japan’s electricity. Now, all 48 operable reactors have been shut although some restarts are expected this year once safety checks are completed. Clean energy, including hydro power, accounted for 10 percent in the year ended March 2013.

Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had said he wanted the energy mix decided within three years. Last month, he said it should be set “as soon as possible,” adding that the government needs a clear outlook on nuclear’s future before committing to targets.

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