Shinzo Abe Continues to Promote Japanese Nuclear Equipment Abroad
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a push on Sunday for his country’s nuclear technologies at a summit in Warsaw with leaders of four ex-Communist European Union countries, as part of his bid to boost the Asian powerhouse’s exports.
Abe recently unveiled plans to treble Japan’s infrastructure exports to 30 trillion yen ($300 billion) a year, a target that could not be reached without nuclear reactors. At Japan’s first summit with the so-called Visegrad Group—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia—Abe sought to interest the four in Japanese nuclear technology.
“We stressed the necessity of strengthening cooperation, especially in the area of energy policy,” Abe told reporters.
A joint statement issued after the talks said “Japan welcomed the fact that private sectors of both sides demonstrated keen interest in concrete forms of cooperation in nuclear energy and safety”. Nuclear power has become a sensitive issue in Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi plant went into meltdown in 2011. Reactors spewed radiation over a wide area, after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami.
In the wake of the disaster, Japan turned off its 50 reactors for safety checks but has restarted two of them, saying it needs to head off possible summertime power shortages. Despite vocal public opposition, Abe has said he wants to restart other units when they are proven safe.
In his first visit to Europe since taking office in December, promoting his country’s nuclear technologies was high on his agenda for boosting overall Japanese exports. Warsaw is designing its first nuclear facility for 2024, while the neighbouring Czech Republic has plans to expand its Soviet-designed Temelin plant. Both are multi-billion dollar contracts on which Japanese companies have bid. Mariusz Dabrowski, a Japan specialist at the Poland-Asia Research Centre, said:
“Now whenever Prime Minister Abe shows up abroad, it’s Japanese nuclear technology that he promotes.”