Protest … women rally against the reactors reopening. Photo: AP
TOKYO: The approval by the Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, for reactors to be restarted, ending Japan’s month-long freeze on nuclear power, has met with a mixed response, signalling damage to his political support.
Two reactors at Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi nuclear plant can be operated safely, Mr Noda said on Saturday after meeting three cabinet ministers who share approval authority.
The utility, which serves the $1 trillion economy of Japan’s second-biggest urban region, said it would immediately begin work to start one reactor.
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Japan is reopening nuclear plants that provided about 30 per cent of its energy before being shut after the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima station.
The decision followed a day after a deal was made with opposition parties to abandon some campaign pledges in return for agreement to double the nation’s consumption tax. Majorities in public opinion polls oppose both the restarts and the tax increase.
Local governments in areas where other nuclear power plants are located voiced support for the government’s decision and hope that reactors at their nuclear plants would also be reactivated.
”The government should restart the reactors as quickly as possible on its own responsibility,” a local official said.
But other local government heads reiterated their demands that the government make more efforts to secure the safety of nuclear plants.
More than 70 per cent of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper poll published on June 4 objected to a speedy restart of the reactors in Ohi. In a separate poll released June 5 by the Pew Research Centre, 70 per cent of Japanese said the country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy and 52 per cent feared they or their families may have been exposed to radiation.
Bloomberg, Yomiuri Shimbun