News / Asia

Japan OK's Restart for 2 Nuclear Reactors

A demonstrator holds a "No more Fukushima" sign during a rally, protesting against restarting the Ohi nuclear power plant's reactors in front of the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2012.A demonstrator holds a "No more Fukushima" sign during a rally, protesting against restarting the Ohi nuclear power plant's reactors in front of the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2012.
x
A demonstrator holds a "No more Fukushima" sign during a rally, protesting against restarting the Ohi nuclear power plant's reactors in front of the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2012.
A demonstrator holds a "No more Fukushima" sign during a rally, protesting against restarting the Ohi nuclear power plant's reactors in front of the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2012.
TOKYO - Japan's government has given consent for a pair of nuclear power reactors to go back online. It is the first such approval since the Fukushima disaster 15 months ago.  At present, all reactors in the country, which has scant natural resources, are offline.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made the announcement for the restart of the reactors after getting consent Saturday from the pro-nuclear governor of the prefecture which hosts Kansai Electric's power plant in the town of Ohi.

Noda says having won local consent he met with three members of his Cabinet and they reached a decision to allow the restart of a pair of idled reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture.

The plant is a major source of electricity for the Osaka area, the country's second largest industrial region.

It is expected to take about six weeks to fully power up the two reactors, each capable of generating about 1,200 megawatts of electricity. They have been offline since last year amid safety concerns after the meltdowns at the Fukushima plant.

Protesters have poured into the street of Tokyo and elsewhere almost daily over the past week, holding anti-nuclear placards.

The nuclear accident, Japan's worst, occurred in wake of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Currently, all 50 of Japan's functioning reactors are offline for maintenance or safety checks.

Japan's government has been weighing the risks of further nuclear accidents against a critical need for energy to fuel the country's economy.

The world's third largest economy, which has been in a long period of stagnation, relied, until last March, on nuclear power for one-third of its energy needs.

A shift back to conventional plants since then has meant resource-poor Japan has had to significantly increase imports of coal and liquid natural gas for those facilities.

Some in Japan contend the country can make do without nuclear power by boosting energy conservation.

The Japan branch of the environmental group Greenpeace is blasting the government's decision, saying approval to restart the reactors "ignores expert safety advice and public outcry, and needlessly risks the health of Japan's environment, its people and its economy."

Others argue without some of the reactors coming back online this summer the country risks blackouts.

The prime minister last week declared Japanese society will not be able to function if nuclear power generation is permanently halted.

Although no one has died from radiation which spewed from the Tokyo Electric plant in Fukushima, the contamination has made some communities and farms off limits for the foreseeable future forcing tens of thousands of people to move elsewhere.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid