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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid