Abe’s canny power plays will shake up Japanese electricity market

Sendai, Japan, March 14, 2015: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) with Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale (R) during the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction; the island nation of Vanuatu is threatened by climate change (source: dpa)
Sendai, Japan, March 14, 2015: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) with Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale (R) during the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction; the island nation of Vanuatu is threatened by climate change (source: dpa)

Change is coming to Japan’s electricity market along two seemingly contradictory tracks. On one hand, the recent restart of two nuclear reactors signals the government’s commitment to well-connected, entrenched interests. On the other, a push to liberalise the sector will break those interests’ long-held grip on the country’s generation and distribution businesses. On both counts, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is implementing plans that are shrewdly calculated to help his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) maintain its hold on power through the 2018 elections.

With the restart of the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai power station on August 11, 2015, Japan began generating nuclear energy for the fi...

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