24 Avril 2012
April 24, 2012
OTSU--A senior vice industry minister visited Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada on Monday, seeking cooperation on the reactivation of two suspended reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in neighboring Fukui Prefecture.
Seishu Makino, senior vice minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, visited the governor at the prefectural government office in Otsu to explain why the government gave the green light to resuming operations at the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the facility operated by Kansai Electric Power Co.
"We'd like to ask for your understanding on the reactivation, as it is crucial considering electricity demand estimates for the coming summer," Makino said.
Kada, who criticized the government's safety confirmation for the two reactors along with Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada, maintained her cautious stance on the issue, saying, "Should a nuclear accident occur, damage would spread throughout the Kinki region [including Shiga Prefecture]."
Makino also visited Yamada later that day to provide similar explanations.
The senior vice minister was accompanied by Takaya Imai, director general for natural resources and energy policy at the ministry's Natural Resources and Energy Agency, and Hiroyuki Fukano, director general at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Makino referred to estimates that KEPCO's capacity will be as much as 18.4 percent short during peak demand periods if the two reactors remain offline.
In a discussion of the results from initial stress tests, the senior vice minister emphasized, "External experts have confirmed the safety of each location in efforts to maintain transparency."
Makino then sought Shiga Prefecture's understanding for the restart, saying, "The government has made a political decision considering the necessity [of restarting the reactors] and their confirmed safety."
"Fukui Prefecture has asked the government to take responsibility for obtaining support from the power-consuming areas," Makino added.
Kada said she was not satisfied with the government's reactivation process.
"We can understand the local economy will be negatively affected [if the reactors remain offline]," she said. "But we have doubts regarding the transparency of information [for making the government's decision, such as the electricity supply estimates]."
Following the talks, Makino said he believed he "made progress even though we have yet to obtain full support."
Kada, on the other hand, expressed a different view. "[Makino's briefings] were too abstract for us to move toward supporting [the restart]."