Japan's Push To Restart
Nuclear Plants Sparks Public Anger
Fukushima Nuclear Plant
EMF Computer Protection
Magnetic Field Detector
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's push to restart nuclear reactors
shut for maintenance by proving their safety through stress
tests and plans to let them operate for as long as 60 years
have sparked an angry response from the public, which is
wary of atomic power in the aftermath of the Fukushima
In a rare protest, a group of citizen observers delayed for
hours a hearing at the trade ministry on Wednesday, at which
the nuclear watchdog presented to experts its first
completed review of stress test results for two reactors
from Fukui prefecture.
Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in a draft
report the tests showed the reactors were capable of
withstanding a severe shock similar to the magnitude 9.0
earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima plant.
But the report's review by a panel of experts is set to
continue for a while as the meeting ended up in controversy
when observers demanded access to the deliberations and
questioned the expert panel's impartiality.
The government's decision this week to allow nuclear
reactors to operate for up to an additional 20 years, in
addition to an initially proposed 40-year limit also drew
fire from local communities hosting nuclear power plants.
Public broadcaster NHK quoted Tatsuya Murakami, mayor of
Tokai village in Ibaraki prefecture, as saying that allowing
for an additional 20 years of service is a compromise that
guts the substance of the original plan.
Yukiko Kada, governor of Shiga prefecture, also said that
allowing the reactors to operate for up to 60 years will
make the public uneasy about nuclear safety measures.
The central government ordered stress tests to overcome
public opposition to the restarting of reactors shut down
for regular checks after meltdowns at the Fukushima plant
shattered public confidence in atomic safety.
The world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years has prompted
a major shift in Japan's energy policy, with the country now
looking to reduce its reliance on nuclear power. It had
aimed to increase its share prior to the disaster.
But the government is also keen to avert a crippling power
crunch in the short term if nuclear reactors are not
restarted. Of Japan's 54 reactors, only five remain in
operation with the rest shut for routine checks.
"The basic policy is to reduce reliance on nuclear power in
the medium to long term. But when considering the economy,
the question is how to cope by suddenly switching off
nuclear power when there are no substitute energy sources,
and if this is feasible," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu
Fujimura told reporters on Thursday.