Japan Said to Eye Reactor Restarts if Pro-Nuclear Candidates Win Office

The Japanese government plans to restart at least 10 reactors if voters in the coming months elect more pro-nuclear candidates, Deutsche Welle reports.

The Sunday election of nuclear-energy supporter Yoichi Masuzoe to the post of governor of Tokyo has given Japan's Shinzo Abe administration some confidence that the public may finally be moving past the March 2011 atomic plant disaster at Fukushima, which sparked nationwide opposition to nuclear power.

The meltdown of three of the Fukushima Daiichi facility's six reactors was caused by an earthquake and  tsunami.

The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Agency is still conducting comprehensive reviews of the nation's 42 nuclear plants to confirm they have implemented the new safety rules passed in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe.

Anti-nuclear power groups are concerned the reforms do not go far enough in limiting the potential for another Fukushima-style disaster.

"The industry and the regulators say they have learned the lessons of Fukushima and that they will be installing new emergency equipment, such as better sea walls and so on, but the companies have been given permission to defer implementation for several years," Aileen Mioko-Smith of Green Action Japan said in an interview. "What happens if we have an earthquake sooner than that?"

Some political analysts also cautioned against reading too much into the election of Masuzoe, who campaigned largely on a platform of restarting atomic plants, the New York Times reported.

"Tokyo’s voters ended up feeling cool toward the idea of using the governor’s election as a referendum on nuclear power," Meiji Gakuin University political expert Kazuhisa Kawakami told the Times. "They felt suspicious that candidates were trying to whip them up with simple-minded populist appeals."

"The no-nukes candidates lost, but that doesn't mean there is suddenly a consensus in favor of nuclear power," retired politics professor Shiro Asano said In a separate Times article.

February 12, 2014
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The Japanese government plans to restart at least 10 reactors if voters in the coming months elect more pro-nuclear candidates, Deutsche Welle reports.

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