At an announcement on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stated that two of the reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in the western prefecture of Fukui must be restarted. Prime Minister Noda called on the nation to accept this decision, as it is necessary to protect jobs, the economy, and the “survival of society,” as he put it. Making it clear that he has made up his mind on the issue, Noda asked that the local governments accept, and try to work towards understanding.
In addition, Prime Minister Noda tried to address public concerns at the live broadcast, and assured that the government had taken the highest safety measures possible, and was certain that should an earthquake or tsunami occur as it did last March, the two Oi reactors would not leak any radiation. Currently, all of Japan’s nuclear reactors are in a state of suspension as a result of the Fukushima meltdown last year. The Oi nuclear plant is the first to have been prepared for restart, as fears that the western Kansai region will have energy shortages as high as 15% over the quickly approaching summer.
Noda said that the need for a stable electricity supply is vital, and without it, the Japanese society will be devastated. As it is, he explained, utilities across the country are already heavily relying on the use of fossil fuels, which are more expensive, and more harmful to the environment.
The central government has faced a strong public opposition to the return of any use of nuclear power, and until recently, much of the local leaders in the Kansai region were in opposition as well. While most have finally given consent in of an energy shortage crisis, some still disagree with a decision to reactivate. Legally, Prime Minister Noda does not need local consent to restart the reactors, but he has said that his next step is to meet with key ministers and local governors. It is expected that the restart could take place within just a few days.