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Japan's aging fleet of reactors spell trouble for energy blueprint

Country needs 30 nuclear plants running but many are more than 30-years old

Riken aims to find out if it is possible to transform nuclear waste into precious metals.

TOKYO -- Japan's nuclear power policy is at a crossroads as nearly half of the 42 nuclear reactors are at least 30 years old. The planned life span is 40. While most of the 42 are currently shutdown following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, operators will need to decide which ones to reactivate.

Kansai Electric Power has been contemplating scrapping two aging nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture. Reactors No. 1 and No. 2 at the Oi plant are designed differently from other reactors and are costly to operate. This has lead some experts to believe that Kansai Electric's decision will not necessarily cause other operators to follow suit. Yet, if it triggers a chain of closures, Japan's medium- and long-term blueprint for its energy mix will have to go back to the drawing board.

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