By Natsuko FUKUE
Tokyo (AFP) March 10, 2016
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said Japan "cannot do without" nuclear power, speaking on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the devastating Fukushima disaster.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast sparked a massive tsunami that swept ashore leaving about 18,500 people dead or missing.
The wall of water also caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl when reactors melted down at the overwhelmed Fukushima power plant.
"Our resource-poor country cannot do without nuclear power to secure the stability of energy supply while considering what makes economic sense and the issue of climate change," Abe told a press conference.
Japan's entire stable of reactors was shuttered in the aftermath of the disaster but Abe and utility companies have been pushing to get reactors back in operation.
The disaster had forced resource-poor Japan to turn to expensive fossil fuels to plug the energy gap left by the shutdowns.
His comments came a day after a Japanese court ordered the shutdown of two nuclear reactors previously declared safe under post-disaster safety rules.
But Abe said the government would "not change its policy" in which reactors that meet the new standards can be restarted.
The court ruling was the first to force the shutdown of reactors switched on under the stricter safety rules adopted after the 2011 disaster, a blow to Abe's bid to bring back nuclear power.
It ordered the shuttering of Kansai Electric's No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant, some 350 kilometres (215 miles) west of Tokyo.
The No. 4 reactor was taken offline last month due to an unexpected technical glitch days after it restarted, while the No. 3 reactor is currently operating.
Abe has argued that resuming nuclear power is key to Japan's energy policy, but memories of Fukushima are still fresh for many. Anti-nuclear sentiment still runs high and there was widespread opposition to restarts.
Japan has since the disaster set up an independent atomic watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, replacing the previous arrangement where the industry ministry both oversaw the regulator and promoted nuclear power.
Abe insisted at the press conference that safety was the government's "top priority."
"And it's important to recover public trust more than anything," he said.
Abe, however, also said that the government was "going to reduce dependence" on nuclear energy.
Two reactors in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, restarted last year, ending a two-year hiatus in nuclear power generation.
Japan will hold a national ceremony on Friday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the disaster to be attended by Abe, the emperor and empress and other dignitaries.
Late last month three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the Fukushima plant, were indicted on criminal negligence charges over the meltdowns.
Nuclear Power News - Nuclear Science, Nuclear Technology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|