Japan to let nuclear plants run after 40-year cap

If the 40-year-rule is applied, 36 reactors would have to close by 2030, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Tokyo: Japan`s planned 40-year cap on nuclear
power plants could be extended up to 20 years, but exemptions
will be rare, the government said on Wednesday.

Japan currently does not have a limit on the operational
lifespan of reactors, and the government had hinted when it
announced the cap that extensions were a possibility.

The proposed legislation requiring plants to shutter after
40 years is part of the government`s campaign to improve
safety following the nuclear crisis set off by the March 11
earthquake and tsunami.

Concern about aging reactors has grown because three of
those at the tsunami-hit plant were built starting in the late
1960s and many more of Japan`s 54 reactors will reach the
40-year mark in coming years.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government
still plans to stick to the 40-year cap in principle. He said
exemptions would be rare, with each reactor only allowed a
maximum of one. He said to qualify a reactor would have to
meet strict safety requirements.

The Cabinet is set to approve the proposed bill by end of
January before submitting legislation to parliament for
further debate, he said.

The proposed legislation is similar to regulations in the
US, which grant 40-year licenses and allow for 20-year

Such renewals have been granted to 66 of 104 US nuclear
reactors. That process has been so routine that many in the
industry are already planning for extensions that could push
the plants to operate for decades longer.

If the 40-year-rule is applied, 36 reactors would have to
close by 2030, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Since the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, Japan
has ordered reactors across the country to undergo new "stress
tests" and get community approval before they can be

Today, Japan`s nuclear officials moved a step closer to
restart two of more than 40 nuclear reactors that are offline
most of them for regular inspections.