Koichi Kamoshida, Getty Images
Steam rises from the No. 3 reactor of the nuclear plant in Mihama, Japan. The country might be eyeing a return to more prominent nuclear power usage.

Japan Governor Supports More Nuclear Restarts

Dec. 23, 2015
In Japan, the central government and the utility companies have been pushing to get reactors nationwide back online, nearly five years after the meltdown at Fukushima.

TOKYO — A Japanese regional governor said Tuesday that he supports the restarting of two nuclear reactors, as a local court prepared to rule on an injunction that has suspended their operation.

The central government and powerful utility companies have been pushing to get reactors nationwide back online, nearly five years after a huge earthquake and tsunami caused disastrous meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The accident forced Japan’s entire array of reactors offline over the following months amid deepening public suspicion over the technology and fears of radiation exposure.

The central government says the world’s third-largest economy needs nuclear power — a technology that once supplied more than a quarter of Japan’s electricity — to meet its energy demand. A handful of reactors have come back online.

Fukui prefecture governor Issei Nishikawa said he supports the restarting of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant operated by Kansai Electric Power.

“I have carefully taken necessary steps such as confirmation of safety measures ... and have come to conclude that I agree with the restart,” he said at a press conference.

His comments came two days before the Fukui District Court rules on an objection by the utility to an injunction issued by the court in April which blocked the restart. The court said at the time that the safety of the reactors had not been proved, despite a green light from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The court said the authority’s guidelines were “too loose.”

Two reactors in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, were switched on in August to end a two-year hiatus in nuclear power generation. But people are still wary. Images of tens of thousands of people displaced by Fukushima still haunt the national dialogue on nuclear power.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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