News / Asia

Japan OK's Restart for 2 Nuclear Reactors

A demonstrator holds a 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
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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs