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Japan to push for hydrogen society

Government mulls deregulation to promote the next-gen energy source

TOKYO -- Japan will consider relaxing rules on hydrogen refueling stations and other steps to promote the clean energy source ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The country will develop a "hydrogen society ahead of the rest of the world," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday at a meeting of cabinet ministers in charge of energy policy. He called for streamlining regulations on hydrogen stations and developing supply chains through stronger cooperation among ministries.

The government will draw up a basic action plan within the year.

Japan hopes to see widespread use of hydrogen power in the Olympics. But construction of hydrogen stations for fuel cell cars is hindered by prohibitively high costs. Storage tanks must undergo routine inspections and meet tough requirements regarding maintenance personnel. A hydrogen station costs four times as much to build as a gas station.

A proposal to ease hydrogen station rules will form part of the government's deregulation proposal to be compiled in June.

The country aims to increase hydrogen stations from the current 90 locations to 160 by 2020 while also boosting the number of fuel cell cars from roughly 2,000 vehicles to 40,000.


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