10 Jun 2012

PM rules that nuclear reactors must re-start

7:37 am on 10 June 2012

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan has decided that two idled nuclear reactors in western Japan must be restarted to protect jobs and avoid damage to the economy.

He said on Friday that steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence of the Fukushima disaster after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year.

Mr Noda said the government had confirmed that even if Kansai Electric Co's two reactors at its Ohi plant in Fukui lost power as happened after Fukushima, there would be no damage to the reactors' core.

"Cheap and stable electricity is vital. If all the reactors are halted, or kept idle, Japanese society cannot survive," he said.

"It is my decision that Ohi reactors No. 3 and No. 4 should be restarted to protect the people's livelihoods."

The decision - which is expected to be confirmed at a meeting with other ministers - will ease worries about power shortages among electronic makers in the region, including Panasonic and Sharp.

Nuclear power supplied nearly 30% of Japan's electricity before last year's tragedy. However, voters are now wary of nuclear power.

All nuclear 50 reactors are now offline, risking power shortages especially in the western city of Osaka and other parts of Kansai Electric's service area.

Former Tokyo Electric Power Company former Tepco president Masataka Shimizu apologised again on Friday for the nuclear disaster.