Tokyo Steel calls for faster nuclear power revival in Japan


(Bloomberg) – A major Japanese steelmaker is calling for a faster restart of nuclear reactors that sat idle after the Fukushima disaster more than a decade ago as it grapples with soaring energy costs.

Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co., Japan’s largest producer of steel made from scrap metal, said more nuclear power generation was key to reviving the competitiveness of the country’s manufacturing industry. Rising commodity prices and the phasing out of coal are making it more difficult to supply electricity, said Kiyoshi Imamura, the company’s chief executive.

“It’s a serious problem,” he said in an interview this week. “It is important to re-discuss the nuclear issue.”

Japan moved away from nuclear power after Fukushima in 2011, although a survey in March showed a slim majority of people favored restarting idle reactors for the first time. Tokyo has a plan to bring almost all of the country’s 33 reactors back into service, but only 10 have restarted so far. Nuclear power is increasingly seen internationally as a viable way to decarbonize without compromising energy supply.

See also: Most Japanese back nuclear for first time since Fukushima

The Japan Iron and Steel Federation has also called for a faster restart of reactors, as has Keidanren, the country’s biggest business lobby group. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said last month that Japan must consider using more nuclear power as the country, which imports most of its energy, grapples with rising fuel prices and the weakening of the yen.

Soaring electricity costs are a particular problem for Tokyo Steel, which operates electric arc rolling mills rather than using coal. The company warned last month that its profits would plummet in the year beginning April 1 due to rising electricity bills.

©2022 Bloomberg LP

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