The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has dropped six of eight members who voted to completely phase out the use of nuclear power from the all-new post-Fukushima energy policy advisory board to the government. In turn, ten members had been reappointed, with Akio Mimura, an adviser for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., as chairman. He was also head of the energy advisory board under a previous LDP administration that all supported nuclear power.
Many politicians and anti-nuclear activists in other countries are joining the international outcry against Japan and its decision to restart two reactors at the nuclear power plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture. Over the last week, those with concerns have been sending letters and gathering in rallies outside their countries' Japanese embassies and consulates. Among those who condemn the Japanese government's decision include green political parties in Australia and Europe, doctors, and labor unions, all citing the Fukushima tragedy as the basis of their opposition to a return to the use of nuclear power.
In a move that's sure to be damaging to his popularity with the public, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stated on Saturday that he approved of the Oi nuclear power plant's restart. Despite large protests in Tokyo, Noda called for the Japan's return to nuclear power for the first time since the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. After both the mayor of Oi, Fukui Prefecture and a team of scientists vouching for the plant's safety, two of the reactors will begin to be activated by the plant's operating utility company, Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO).
The last domino has fallen today, as Shinobu Tokioka, the mayor of the town of Oi, in the western prefecture of Fukui, has given his approval to restart two of the reactors at the local nuclear power plant. After Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his decision to restart the reactors on a live broadcast last week, all that was seen as left was getting approval from local leaders. While the central government doesn't legally need to have the permission of prefectural leaders, along with their understanding, it was something called for by Noda.
In what is seen as the very last approval needed for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to go ahead with decision to restart two suspended nuclear reactors, a panel of scientists have reported that the facility meets the safety requirements to return to operation. Located in the western Fukui Prefecture, the Oi nuclear plant has two reactors that Noda announced on Friday afternoon he intends to reactivate. After relocating to a different site due to anti-nuclear protesters, the group of 12 scientists that were appointed by the Fukui governor met on Sunday afternoon to present a document reporting the safety of the Oi plant.
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who is also in charge of nuclear disaster management, met with leaders in Japan's western Kansai region on Saturday to formally request they accept the central government's decision to restart the nuclear reactors in Oi, Fukui prefecture. The central government has long been seeking the support of those in the Kansai region, hoping to restart the reactor in time to combat energy shortages during this summer's high temperatures. Unfortunately for the central government, they once again denied their support on the grounds of safety.
Members of the Fukui prefecture's nuclear safety committee have said that they judge the government's guidelines for restarting the Oi nuclear reactors to be acceptable. However, those approving members only make up three out of twelve.