(Bloomberg) -- A major Japanese steel-maker is calling for a quicker restart of nuclear reactors that were idled after the Fukushima disaster more than a decade ago as it grapples with soaring energy costs.
Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co., Japan’s biggest producer of steel made from scrap, said more nuclear power generation was essential to revive the competitiveness of manufacturing in the country. Rising commodity prices and the phasing out of coal is making it tougher to secure enough electricity, said Kiyoshi Imamura, the company’s managing director.
“This is a serious problem,” he said in an interview this week. “It’s important to discuss again the issue of nuclear power.”
Japan moved away from nuclear energy following Fukushima in 2011, although a survey in March showed a narrow majority of people favored restarting the idled reactors for the first time. Tokyo has a plan to eventually get almost all of the country’s 33 reactors back in operation, but only 10 have restarted so far. Nuclear power is increasingly viewed internationally as a viable way to decarbonize without jeopardizing energy supply.
See also: Most Japanese Back Nuclear for First Time Since Fukushima
The Japan Iron and Steel Federation has also been calling for a quicker restart of the reactors, as has Keidanren, the country’s biggest business lobby group. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said last month that Japan must consider using more nuclear power as the nation, which imports most of its energy, struggles with rising fuel prices and a weakening yen.
Surging power costs are a particular problem for Tokyo Steel, which operates electric-arc mills rather than using coal. The company warned last month that its profit would fall in the year starting April 1 due to rising electricity bills.
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