Tokyo Electric Power Co., Getty Images
Workers operate a cask to remove nuclear fuel rods from a pool at No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Japanese Court Paves Way for More Nuclear Restarts

Dec. 24, 2015
The Fukui District Court ruled in favor of Kansai Electric Power, which was fighting the court's earlier injunction that said the safety of its reactors had not been proved, despite a green light from the national Nuclear Regulation Authority.

TOKYO — A Japanese court lifted an injunction on Thursday that blocks two regional nuclear reactors from restarting, effectively paving the way for them to come back online.

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

The accident forced all of Japan’s reactors offline for about two years amid deepening public suspicion over the technology and fears of radiation exposure, though a handful have since started operating.

The Fukui District Court in western Japan ruled Thursday in favor of Kansai Electric Power, which was fighting the court’s earlier injunction that said the safety of its reactors had not been proved, despite a green light from the national Nuclear Regulation Authority.

However, the latest decision by Fukui judge Jun Hayashi — not the same judge who issued the injunction — said the authority’s standards are valid and logical and gave the go-ahead for the reactors to restart. 

“The decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority does not show logical flaws,” Hayashi said, according to national broadcaster NHK. “There is no manifestation of concrete danger that threatens lives of local residents.”

The reactors in question are Kansai Electric’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Takahama nuclear plant.

In April, the Fukui court said the nuclear authority’s guidelines were “too loose” and issued a temporary order to stop refiring of the Takahama reactors. But the reactors last year passed the nuclear authority’s safety review, which became more stringent following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Local citizens protested outside the court Thursday, holding banners that said “No lesson learned from the Fukushima accident” and “Where is judiciary responsibility?”

“We absolutely cannot accept this,” said Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer involved in multiple cases against nuclear restarts.

Fukui prefectural governor Issei Nishikawa said this week he supported the reactor restarts. 

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 citizens are still wary, as people remain displaced or uprooted after the Fukushima disaster and fears still linger about radiation exposure.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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