The Japanese government officially decided today to reactivate the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, in a bid to prevent power shortages in the Kansai region this summer. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda approved the first restart of Japan’s power reactors since last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, a decision that could undermine his political support and force early elections.
At a news conference Yukio Edano, the minister of economy, trade and industry, said:
"The government’s policy of reducing Japan’s nuclear power dependency in the medium to long term has not changed at all."
Edano said he asked plant operator Kansai Electric Power Co. to prepare to fire up the Oi reactors, which are expected to require several weeks to reach full capacity. It would be the first reactivation since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Japan, which had relied on nuclear power for about 30% of needs, is reopening plants after the nation’s biggest business lobby warned power outages would lead to factory shutdowns and slow an economic recovery.
A Mainichi News poll shows more than 70% of the population opposes restarting the Ohi reactors, which were idled for inspection after the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima plant forced more than 160,000 people to evacuate.
According to Bloomberg, Noda “could end up like all his predecessors in the dustbin of history very quickly,” said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Tokyo campus.
“The dustbin is waiting for him.” National elections must be held by August 2013. None of Japan’s last five premiers served much more than a year.
Reactors at Oi plant to be reactivated Noda issues ‘final decision’ on restart after Fukui’s governor gives consent, by KAZUAKI NAGATA, Japan Times, June 17th, 2012 - http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120617a1.html
Japan Nuclear Freeze Ends as Voter Backlash Begins for Noda by Jacob Adelman and Yuji Okada, Bloomberg News, June 16th, 2012 -