The Japanese government has announced that it is to allow nuclear reactors to operate for up to 60 years in revised regulations on power plant operators, even as it looks to shift gradually away from atomic power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
The move, which marks the first time Japan will set a limit on a reactor's maximum lifespan, comes while the country debates a new energy strategy that is expected to give a greater role to renewable, clean energy sources.
Only five of the nation's 54 reactors remain online, prompting utilities to import more fossil fuels to bridge the gap and prevent power cuts, as public anxiety sparked by Fukushima has prevented the restart of reactors shut for routine checks.
Stress tests are now being carried out on reactors to reassure the public and persuade local governments to allow them to be restarted, according to Reuters.
The government will allow plant operators to apply for one extension of up to 20 years for each reactor, in line with U.S. standards, and approval would only be granted if certain conditions were met.
"There will be no change in the fact that the number of reactors will decline, as will Japan's reliance on them. But we're not talking about the immediate future," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference.
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