17 Avril 2012
April 17, 2012
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese industry minister Yukio Edano on Tuesday apologized for his recent remarks that Japan will be without operating reactors only "momentarily" from May 6, when its last currently active reactor goes offline for maintenance.
"I should have said (the number of operating reactors in Japan) will be zero at least for a while," Edano said at a press conference, referring to remarks he made in a speech in Tokushima Prefecture on Sunday.
He said his view remains unchanged that it will be difficult to restart two offline reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture before May 5 and that Japan will have a period with no operating reactors.
"I apologize for the concerns and effects that my remarks caused to various people," Edano said.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Edano, and two other ministers confirmed Friday the safety and necessity of resuming the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi complex.
Meanwhile, the governors of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, adjacent to Fukui Prefecture, remain reluctant to see the reactors reactivated and Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa asked Edano on Saturday during their meeting in Fukui Prefecture to carefully consider the views of other regional governments.
At the press conference on Tuesday, Edano denied that the government is in a rush to resume operation of the Oi reactors and said that it would be "very important to win understanding" for the reactivation from Shiga and Kyoto prefectures as a way to win support for the restart from Fukui Prefecture.
Since the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi power plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, no Japanese reactors have resumed operation after being shut down for mandatory periodic checks, and the two Oi reactors are the first to be considered for possible reactivation by the central government.
With a number of reactors shut down for periodic checks, only the No. 3 reactor at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomari plant in Hokkaido is currently operating among Japan's 54 commercial reactors. That reactor too is slated for shutdown on May 5 for a periodic checkup, meaning Japan will have no operating reactors at that point if none are reactivated.
Noda, Edano, and two other ministers are to make a final decision on whether to resume operation of the two Oi reactors after assessing the reactions of local authorities near the Oi plant and public opinion.