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China Daily Website

Japan minister to ask for nuclear reactor restart

Updated: 2012-04-05 10:30
( Agencies)

TOKYO - Japan's trade minister is set to visit Fukui prefecture, home of Kansai Electric Power Co's  Ohi nuclear plant, as early as Sunday to ask for local approval to restart the plant's No 3 and No 4 reactors, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who holds the energy portfolio, and two other ministers will meet later on Thursday to decide whether to restart the two reactors, the Nikkei business daily said.

All but one of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors have been shut down amid safety concerns in the wake of last year's Fukushima radiation crisis, which has led to fears of a power crunch during the summer when demand is high.

On Tuesday, Noda decided on a provisional safety standard reflecting the lessons learned from the radiation disaster at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

It was decided reactors must meet the standard as well as pass stress tests before they can be restarted.

The creation of the provisional safety standard had been called for by the Fukui Prefectural Governor Issei Nishikawa as one of the requirements for restarts.    

The government must persuade wary locals that the plant is safe after last year's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

But the restart of the Ohi reactors remains uncertain.

Edano said this week the government would need to gain approval from two governors in neighbouring Kyoto and Shiga who have been publicly opposed to the restart.

The No 3 and No 4 reactors at the Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture, western Japan, are the first that passed the government-imposed, computer-simulated stress tests.