News / Asia

Japan to 'Stress Test' Idled Nuclear Plants

Japanese officials say they will allow idled nuclear plants to resume operations only after passing new safety tests gauging their resilience to major catastrophes. The evaluations are part of an attempt to restore public confidence in atomic energy after the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami in the northeastern part of the country led to the meltdown of three reactors.

Japan's government says two-stage "stress tests" will be carried out at all of the country's nuclear reactors.

Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano, speaking to reporters Monday, explained that officials could grant permission to restart the nuclear plants after the first stage of the evaluations.

Edano says there will be no deadline for the safety tests which will be primarily conducted by the country's Nuclear Safety Commission. He said plants that are still in operation will be evaluated under a more comprehensive second stage of stress tests.

Officials say the test results could lead to switching off some of the reactors currently in operation.

The simulations, which will have different standards than those proposed by the European Union, are to determine how well the nuclear facilities would cope in the event of earthquakes, flooding, explosions or planes crashing into them.

Thirty-five of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are out of commission. Most are not operating due to maintenance or because local governments have not granted permission for them to re-start because of safety concerns.

Local officials became more concerned about nuclear safety after the March 11 magnitude-9 earthquake and the resulting tsunami along the northeastern coast. The natural disaster, which has left more than 20,000 people dead or missing, severely damaged Tokyo Electric's Fukushima-1 plant. Three of its six reactors suffered a meltdown and the plant is still leaking radiation.

The accident and the delayed re-start of other reactors have led to energy conservation measures in some regions of Japan.

Before the March disaster, Japan relied on nuclear plants for 30 percent of its electrical power and had intended to raise that to 50 percent by 2030.

But Prime Minister Naoto Kan wants a total review of the country's energy plan. He made a surprise policy shift last week, announcing that all nuclear plants would undergo a full safety assessment.

Kan's announcement prompted the governor of Saga prefecture to reverse his approval for operations to resume at two nuclear units in his prefecture.

Kan has faced repeated criticism for his handling of the nuclear crisis. That has led to renewed calls for his resignation, including among lawmakers in his own party.

After surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament, last month, Kan announced he intends to turn over leadership to a younger generation.  The prime minister has not announced when he will quit although other members of the Democratic Party say Kan is likely to resign next month.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs