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Shares surge as Japan's new leader looks to revive nuclear

Posting in Energy

Incoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smiles upon nuclear.

The share price of the utility behind the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdowns leapt by a third the day after Japan elected a new government hoping to revive the country's nuclear power industry, the Daily Telegraph observed.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) closed up 32.9 percent at ¥202 ($2.39) on Monday, following the landslide victory of incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe's pro-business Liberal Democratic Party. Likewise, shares in Japan's Chubu Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. jumped 9.59 percent and 17.6 percent respectively, to ¥1,188 ($14.09) and ¥920 ($10.91).

NUCLEAR KNOCK DOWN

All three utilities have shut down nuclear reactors in the wake of Fukushima, as part of a countrywide closure of 52 of Japan's 54 reactors, only some of which were expected to reopen.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had sketched out an iffy plan to abandon nuclear power by 2040, a notion that Abe had blasted as "irresponsible."

Japan has been scrambling to fill the power gap left by the shutdowns. Prior to Fukushima, nuclear had provided about 30 percent of the country's electricity. Japan has increased its use of imported natural gas and other fossil fuels, and has also pushed user efficiency.

BACK ON ITS FEET?

Abe hopes to reverse the anti-nuclear swing. "The LDP's supportive stance on the role of nuclear power has also fueled speculation that Japan could see the reactivation of more reactors as long as they clear safety standards to be set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, an independent regulatory body launched in September,"  The Mainichi newspaper said in a Kyodo News story.

Other leaders have also spoken out in favor of Japanese nuclear. Nobuo Tanaka, the former head of the International Energy Agency, noted last week that Japan faces a potential economic catastrophe without it.

Although opinion polls have found about 80 percent of the Japanese public object to nuclear power, that sentiment did not stop them from electing a pro-nuclear government.

Photo: TTNIS via Wikimedia.

More from the land of re-rising nuclear, on SmartPlanet

— By on December 20, 2012, 2:48 AM 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