Japan says restarting nuclear reactors could prop up yen

Japan says restarting nuclear reactors could prop up yen

This picture taken on February 3, 2020 shows the central control room for the unit one reactor at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. KAZUHIRO NOGI AFP TOKYO- Japan industry minister said on Tuesday that restarting Japan's idle nuclear reactors would help prop up the economy as the yen's weakness is further inflating energy imports.

A reboot of each reactor would mean 1 million tons less of liquified natural gas would have to be imported to resource-poor Japan, according to a press conference by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.

Nishimura said that this would be a countermeasure against the depreciation of the yen.

The yen has been persistently weakened against the US dollar recently, to the point that Japan intervened in the currency markets to support the yen on Sept 22 for the first time since 1998 in order to remedy one-sided, rapid yen moves, as described by financial authorities here.

Early Tuesday, Japan warned of additional market operations as the yen remained weak, near a 32 year low around the 149 line against the US dollar in Tokyo.

This resulted in Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida saying in parliament that the yen's rapid depreciation is problematic and the government will work with the Bank of Japan BOJ to take appropriate steps.

The yen's weakness has seen already inflated energy imports and material costs soar, with higher prices now weighing on Japanese households and firms, as energy consumption rises as winter and colder temperatures approach.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan is home to a majority of Japan's nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Businesses have been calling for more nuclear reactors to be restarted and Kishida has said that up to nine idled reactors will be restarted to deal with rising power demands during the winter.