16 Jun 2012

Japan to re-start some nuclear reactors

6:03 pm on 16 June 2012

Japan is restarting two nuclear reactors next month, the first to go back online since all 50 were shut down in the wake of the catastrophic meltdown last year.

That was when the Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.

A government decision to restart two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co at Ohi in western Japan was announced by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at a meeting with key ministers, the BBC reports.

Despite protests against the move and public safety concerns, the decision could open the door to more nuclear power reactors being fired up again.

The decision is a victory for Japan's still-powerful nuclear industry and reflects Mr Noda's concerns about damage to the economy if atomic energy is abandoned following the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Mr Noda made the announcement after meeting the governor of Fukui prefecture, Kazumasa Nishikawa, who gave his approval for the decision.

Kansai Electric Power, owner of the Ohi nuclear power plant, has been planning rolling blackouts to cut energy usage.

Blackouts are extremely unpopular, especially among factory owners, and Mr Noda has repeatedly said that it's crucial for the nation's economy to restart some nuclear reactors.

Some local politicians, including Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto, say their approvals have been limited to the Ohi plant and only during the hot summer months.