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Japan lawmakers push for nuclear restart

Posting in Energy

Stall tactics. Japanese legislator Hiroyuki Hosoda has warned that the economy could stall if the country does not restart nuclear power.

A group of politicians in Japan's parliament have called for a return to nuclear power to help the country overcome economic difficulties triggered in large measure by the expensive importing of fossil fuels that have replaced shuttered atomic plants.

"Dozens of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) launched a group Tuesday to push for the restart of the country's idled nuclear reactors, saying a stable power supply is key to achieving economic growth," Kyodo News reported via the Japan Times. The group was led by Hiroyuki Hosoda, a former chief cabinet secretary who recently warned that the economy could stall if nuclear does not return.

All but two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors remain closed following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station that followed the tragic earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan over two years ago.

Nuclear had provided about 30 percent of the country's electricity.

The import of fossil fuels like liquefied natural gas has cost the country both financially and environmentally, as it spends heavily to keep the lights on while adding to its hazardous CO2 emissions.

Earlier this year Japan reported an all time record trade deficit of 1.63 trillion yen ($15.8 billion) as it continued to purchase fossil fuels from abroad. The yen is devaluing, so those purchases are growing even more costly.

A government advisory group recently said that a partial nuclear restart could save the country $20 billion.

Some economists have warned that Japan faces a potentially grave danger of losing its fossil fuel supplies from the unstable Middle East. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also from the LDP, recently worked a deal with United Arab Emirates to assure future supplies of oil by offering nuclear technology to UAE. He is talking with Saudi Arabia about a similar arrangement.

Abe has been pushing to revive nuclear at home since he took office in December.

If one were to paraphrase the view of his pro-nuclear party, it would be, "Fire up the fission. These imported fossil fuels are breaking us."

Photo from Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

More on Japan nuclear, from SmartPlanet:

— By on May 14, 2013, 10:28 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure