Despite the devastation wreaked by the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, Japan wants to restart two nuclear reactors that were shut off in the wake of the disaster. According to the Guardian, Japan’s nuclear watchdog has said the reactors can be started up again, as long as the operator can convince the local communities they are safe. That might not be an easy task as the Japanese public has been wary of nuclear power since Fukushima, which was the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) only gave permission to open the Sendai plant in southern Japan after a 400-page safety report and months of public consultation. Plant operator, Kyushu Electric Power still needs to get two more NRA approvals for other facilities at the plant, as well as the all-important public approval. So it’s unlikely the plants will open until sometime in 2015.
Newly-appointed Japanese Industry Minister, Yuko Obuchi will have to be persuasive to restart the plant, and she acknowledges she has a tough road ahead of her. “If people say they are worried, I think it’s only natural,” she told the Guardian. “If you are a mother, I think it is a kind of feeling that everyone has. The central government must offer a full explanation to these sentiments.” She added that it’s important to earn the “understanding of hosting communities” who might not like nuclear facilities operating in the backyard, despite the new safety rules.
But Greenpeace Japan is campaigning to have the country abandon nuclear power altogether. The organization says the government is ignoring the fact that Japan has done just fine without nuclear power over the past year, and that it favors dangerous nuclear energy over renewable sources. “The government . . . is ignoring the lessons of Fukushima and attempting to prevent the renewable energy revolution, trying to take the nation back to its dependence on dangerous and unreliable nuclear power,” Kazue Suzuki of Greenpeace Japan said in the Guardian.
Via the Guardian