TOKYO – On Saturday despite the reluctance of public opinion, the Japanese government announced its decision to return to service two nuclear reactors in western Japan, for the first time since the accident at the plant in Fukushima consecutive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
“After the agreement of the local municipalities, the four ministers have decided, as part of the final decision of the government to restart the reactors 3 and 4 of the Central Ohio,” said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. This decision was expected. The chief minister had called on June 8 the population to accept the return to service of two reactors, saying it was an economic necessity.
According to their operator Kansai Electric Power, the leading provider of electricity in the region encompassing the cities of Osaka and Kyoto, restarting the first reactor, 3, and the grid connection will take approximately three weeks. Number four is then restarted. The whole process is likely to be suspended if the security problems, assured the Minister of Trade and Industry Yukio Edano.
There are currently over nuclear reactor in operation in Japan, a first in four decades. The last operation, that of the Tomari plant in the north, was arrested May 5 for checks and maintenance.
Before the tsunami of 11 March 2011 and the accident resulting from the plant in Fukushima, the worst since Chernobyl in 1986, Japan had 50 reactors in operation. All are currently shut down for safety checks, scheduled maintenance or were disabled by the tsunami, as in Fukushima. Nuclear, before March 11, 2011, was approximately 30% of electricity generation in Japan.
The government cites the risk of power shortages during the summer, and its impact on the economy and life of the population. It promises to eventually reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear power.
On Saturday demonstrators gathered in front of the seat of government in Tokyo to protest against the decision of the reactors back on the road to Ohio. “Do not restart”, “Fukushima, never again,” they chanted in particular.