Demand for natural gas imports will remain heavy
Linda Sieg And Kiyoshi Takenaka - REUTERS
- June 16, 2012
PM Noda overcomes public opposition to nukes --Ed.
Japan on Saturday approved the resumption of nuclear power operations at two reactors despite mass public opposition, the first to come back on line after they were all shut down following the Fukushima crisis.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, his popularity ratings sagging, had backed the restarts for some time. He announced the government's decision at a meeting with key ministers, giving the go-ahead to two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co at Ohi in western Japan.
The decision, despite public concerns over safety after the big earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant, could open the door to more restarts among Japan's 50 nuclear power reactors.
The push to restart the two Ohi reactors, before a potential summer power crunch, also underscores the premier's eagerness to win backing from businesses worried about high electricity costs that could push factories offshore. Kansai electric says it will take six weeks to get both reactors running fully.
But the decision risks a backlash from a public deeply concerned about nuclear safety. As many as 10,000 demonstrators gathered outside Noda's office on Friday night amid a heavy police presence to denounce the restarts, urging the premier to step down and shouting "Lives matter more than the economy."
The Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, the current watchdog, has approved stress tests for Shikoku Electric Power Co Inc's 890-megawatt No.3 reactor in Ikata, southern Japan. Next on the list for possible approval are two Hokkaido Electric Power reactors in Tomari, northern Japan and Hokuriku Electric's two in Shika, western Japan.... [Read More]