5 May 2012

Japan drops nuclear power for first time in 42 years

9:42 pm on 5 May 2012

Japanese utility Hokkaido Electric Power Co began shutting down the country's last active nuclear reactor on Saturday, leaving the world's third-biggest user of atomic energy with no nuclear-derived electricity for the first time since 1970.

It follows a crisis at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where an earthquake and tsunami in March last year triggered radiation leaks.

This tested public faith in nuclear power and prevented the restart of reactors shut down for regular maintenance checks. Previous debates on nuclear matters have been coloured by the fact that Japan is so far the only country to have had nuclear bombs dropped on it.

Two reactors in Ohi are the first to be considered for reactivation by the central government, but it faces an uphill battle of winning public support.