Japan approves another nuclear reactor for restart

Japan's nuclear watchdog gives green light to third nuclear plant with Abe government keen to lift economy

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Japan's nuclear regulator has approved one more atomic reactor to resume operation on Wednesday, four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The country is hoping to restart all nuclear plants, which generate one third of Japan's electricity, as the economy needs a reboot after years of stagnation.

The nuclear watchdog has decided that Ikata nuclear power station in southwestern Japan meets new safety standards put in place after the Fukushima meltdown. Before Ikata resumes operation, two more safety approvals must be given, and the public will have a say on the issue.

The issue of nuclear power is a sensitive topic for Japan, which is still feeling the effects of 2011 Fukushima disaster and whose people are concerned about a hasty restarting process.

Towns along the northeastern coast of Japan were leveled in a devastating quake and tsunami in March 2011.

That disaster struck the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 220 km northeast of Tokyo, sparking triple nuclear meltdowns, forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee nearby towns and contaminating water, food and air.

The last of Japan’s 48 nuclear reactors stopped in September 2013.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants a quick solution to energy problem that affects the country's economy, as it had to spend record $65 billion on natural gas in order to substitute nuclear energy last year.

But the government's plans to restart the three approved reactors could bump into legal hurdles. As a majority of Japanese people are opposed to atomic power, environmental groups are campaigning against the restarts.

In previous court cases against the nuclear plants, judges ruled against restarting the reactors over safety concerns.

TRTWorld and agencies