Japan governor approves Sendai reactor restart

Two reactors at Japan’s Sendai nuclear plant are set to become the first to be restarted since the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility

The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture gave his approval, marking the final hurdle for the restart, which is now likely to happen next year.

Before the accident, caused by a massive quake and tsunami, about 30% of Japan’s power was nuclear-generated.

All 48 plants were shut down but PM Shinzo Abe has lobbied for a restart.

Mr Abe’s government has argued that the shutdown has hurt the economy, forcing Japan to import expensive fossil fuels to make up the power shortfall.

Satsumasendai

Despite public anxiety, earlier this year Mr Abe approved an energy plan backing the use of nuclear power.

Local authorities were given the final say on whether to restart their commercial plants. The plant’s host town, Satsumasendai, had already voted in favour.

“I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors,” Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito told a news conference on Friday, reported Reuters news agency.

“I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents.”

Sendai reactor in  Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Pref, Japan
The Sendai plant in Satsumasendai will undergo further checks before it goes live
Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has argued that the nuclear shutdown is hurting Japan’s economy

The reactors, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, will likely restart next year as further operational checks need to be passed.

In a vote on Friday 38 out of 47 of the Kagoshima’s prefectural assembly backed the restarting of the reactors.

Protesters present in the assembly hall stood up before the vote with pink signs that said “NO restart”, reported Reuters. Yelling from opponents drowned out the final vote.

In September, Japanese regulators gave the Sendai reactors their final approval saying safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster had been met.

Source: BBC News

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