9 Years On: Japan to Complete Post-Fukushima Power System Reform

Politics Economy

Tokyo, March 13 (Jiji Press)--Japan is slated to complete next month its electricity system reform, nine years after the country's worst nuclear accident at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The reform will be capped off with the separation of power transmission and distribution operations from major power utilities, which is expected to facilitate competition in the retail power market further, following its full liberalization in April 2016.

The government has been pushing ahead with the electricity system reform amid "strong resistance from power giants," a former senior industry ministry official said. "We've managed to come this far."

In Japan, 10 regional power utilities used to enjoy monopolies from power generation to retail in their respective service areas. The regional monopolies appeared to be helpful for stable electricity supply but hampered efforts to improve business efficiency and kept electricity prices elevated.

In the early 2000s, the industry ministry sought to realize the separation of the power generation and grid operations, led by then Vice Minister Seiji Murata. But the power industry crushed the initiative through lobbying and other measures, insisting that the reform step could threaten stable power supply.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press