Japan PM Kishida calls for relaunch of nine nuclear reactors

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for a further nine nuclear reactors to be operational this winter, in a boost for the global uranium market.

“There are concerns about a power shortage this winter,” Kishida told a news conference earlier today. “We must prevent this situation.” The nine mooted nuclear reactors would roughly cover about 10% of Japan’s power consumption.

Japan, which is still reeling from the assassination of its former President Shinzo Abe last week, is currently struggling with tight electricity supplies due to extreme weather, the retirement of older power plants and delays to restarting nuclear reactors that were shut following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

10 of Japan’s 33 operable nuclear reactors had been restarted under post-Fukushima safety rules, although some are offline for maintenance. A further seven units have been cleared by the nation’s nuclear regulator to resume operations but haven’t been restarted due to required upgrades or lack of local support.

Kishida is a strong advocate of nuclear power and has previously called for faster restarts for facilities that have cleared safety reviews. However, Japan’s central government has little ability to order a plant to resume operations, since there is a rigorous regulatory process.

Japan’s nuclear reactor drive will result in increasing demand for uranium – the primary energy source of nuclear power plants. Uranium prices surged in February after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid fears of global energy shortages. Nuclear is considered a low carbon energy source by its proponents.