Japan needs to restore nuclear confidence: Energy Agency

In light of Japan's plans to increase nuclear plant power output by 30% by 2010, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Claude Mandil, has urged Japan to restore public confidence in nuclear powered power plants and clarify its role in a market increasingly marked by the growing liberalisation of Japan's electricity sector and the country's heavy reliance on Middle East oil imports.
Japan needs to restore nuclear confidence: Energy Agency Japan needs to restore nuclear confidence: Energy Agency Japan needs to restore nuclear confidence: Energy Agency Japan needs to restore nuclear confidence: Energy Agency Japan needs to restore nuclear confidence: Energy Agency

He has also urged the Japanese government to further liberalise its electricity and gas markets.

According to Mandil, "it will take some time to restore public confidence in nuclear power due to the outcry over cover-ups of reactor defects involving Tokyo Electric Power Co. It is important for Japan to improve public acceptance of nuclear energy as a way to ensure stable energy supply and mitigate climate change."

He has also urged the Japanese government "to boost transparency in the administration of its nuclear sector" and advocates for stiffer rules and harsher penalties for violators who break the rules.

Mandil was also critical of the gas and electricity sectors, which he states as "among the highest of the 26 member countries of the IEA". He believes that the lack of competition in the sector - brought about by the dominance of utilities giants Tepco and Kansai Electric Power Co - has meant high consumer prices. Mandil also feels that new entrants to the sector - under such a climate - would find it difficult to make any inroads.

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