Japan Central Government May Restart Reactors Next Week

The central government appears poised to restart the nuclear reactors at Oi as early as next week. This article by Asahi Shimbun claims the reactors may restart as early as next week but also mentions the possibility that approval from local governments will still be needed. There is also a mention that it could be decided based on electricity demands. That opens the door for months long battles about conservation and the honesty of power company demand estimates that have been found in the last year to be inaccurate in many instances.

The governor of Fukushima prefecture has blasted the central government plan. He cites that the Fukushima disaster is still not fully understood as the country grapples with new instances of contamination on a daily basis. The accident itself is still not fully understood and there is no new nuclear regulator as promised. As we mentioned previously there are not any new concrete laws or scientifically based safety standards being put in place. The rushed “safety guidelines” Noda’s cabinet came up with in 2 days are now being used as justification to restart reactors.

Any safety changes at Oi are at this point only planned, not put in place. So these reactors would be restarted under the same conditions that Fukushima Daiichi was operating under during the March 11 disaster. With one even worse factor, Oi does not have a quake proof building, something that proved critical in eventually gaining control of the melting down reactors at Daiichi.

Meanwhile Osaka and Shiga prefectures seem unconvinced of these new safety claims and promises. If that resistance will actually hold back the reactor restarts remains to be seen but the central government’s approval rating is about 30% and the public is heavily against the reactor restarts.

Noda made a very vague statement on obtaining consent from the local governments, it is unclear if it will be part of the decision or not.
Although Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Tuesday that local consent is not a legal requirement for restarting the reactors, the prime minister also assured local governments and the public that the government will take their opinions into account before making a final decision.”

Edano will be traveling to Fukui prefecture to try to convince the local government about restarts but Fukui prefecture has not been the main obstacle.

Mainichi published a well timed interview with an atomic bomb survivor. This quote is in reference to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster:

That’s the result of always putting economic prosperity first,” Shimabukuro says. “We don’t need to be rich,” he adds, his tone growing stronger as the TV program detailed the plights of people forced from their homes by the nuclear disaster. “The most important thing is to live in safety and peace. Japan ought to have learned that from the war.” 

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