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Kansai leaders against Oi restart but pressure from gov't continues

May 21, 2012


Kansai leaders oppose govt call to back Oi reactor restarts



OSAKA (Jiji Press)--Local government leaders in the Kansai region have voiced their opposition to restarting reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, despite calls from central government officials asking for their support.

At a meeting with local leaders in Osaka on Saturday, nuclear disaster management minister Goshi Hosono asked them to approve the reactivation of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi power plant.

However, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and other participants at the meeting cast doubt over the safety of nuclear power.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tsuyoshi Saito also attended the meeting.

"The economy and people's lives cannot be sustained if all the country's nuclear reactors stop operating," Saito said.

The last operating nuclear reactor in Japan was taken offline earlier in May for regular maintenance. No idled reactor has been reactivated since the onset of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Hosono explained measures implemented by the government and power firms emphasized the safety of the two Oi reactors.

In response, Hashimoto said: "I expect the new nuclear regulatory agency will put together comprehensive safety standards. Until then, the reactors should not be allowed to resume full operations."

The government plans to create the new regulatory agency by integrating the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission. The new agency will operate under the Environment Ministry.

Hashimoto also suggested that even if the Oi reactors are restarted, they should only be used when the supply-demand balance is tight.

Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka criticized the government for pushing reactor restarts. "Politicians should wait for the green light from experts, but they are taking the initiative," he said.

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