Japan is readying to restart some of its 50 idle nuclear reactors, with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda going on national television to declare that society “won’t function” without nuclear power.
Japan is facing electricity shortfalls in the peak summer period, however recent polls have indicated that public opinion is against restarting reactors and for reducing Japan’s reliance on nuclear energy.
Before last year’s March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, Japan was the world’s biggest nuclear power generator after the US and France.
According to the Associated Press, Noda warned that going without nuclear power would mean relying more heavily on fossil fuel, which would increase electricity bills for individuals and small businesses.
However, according to Australia’s ABC News, about 1,000 protestors gathered outside Noda’s Tokyo home over the weekend, chanting “No to restarting nuclear plants.”
However, Noda said: “I have decided that reactors three and four at the Ohi nuclear plant should be restarted in order to protect people’s lives.”
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Noda also received the nod from a panel of Japanese scientists that the two nuclear reactors were safe to operate, Bloomberg reported.
The 12-member panel that met late Sunday released a document specifying that the Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture could be operated safely.
“It has been evaluated that safety measures are satisfactory for ensuring reactor security even in the event of an earthquake and tsunami that must be anticipated based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident,” the panel said.
Fukushima Dai-Ichi was operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The Ohi reactors could be powered into life as early as this week, the ABC reported.
The AP cited Noda as saying that said major cities around the Ohi plant should thank local residents for their burden of supplying electricity to towns further afield.