Japan has moved closer to a return to nuclear power, more than three years after the Fukushima disaster, after a town in the country’s south-west voted to approve two reactors coming back online.
Nineteen of 26 assembly members in Satsumasendai, located 600 miles south-west of Tokyo, voted in favour of restarting the Sendai nuclear power plant. Four voted against and three abstained.
The vote does not mean the reactors, the first to win approval to restart since the introduction of stringent new safety requirements, will go back online immediately.
The plant, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, must pass operational safety checks, and officials in Kagoshima prefecture, where the town is located, also have to give their consent. That means the plant’s two reactors are unlikely to be restarted until next year, officials said.
The move will boost the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who supports a gradual return to nuclear power as Japan confronts rising costs of imported oil and gas, and doubts about its ability to meet climate change commitments. Aware that a majority of Japanese opposes a return to nuclear power, Abe has said he would leave the final decision on whether to approve the restarts to local communities.
Greenpeace said Tuesday’s vote “starkly contradicts” the views of most people near the Sendai plant. “There are many significant unanswered or ignored safety questions – these must be addressed publicly and to the satisfaction of the people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by a potential restart of the Sendai reactors,” said Greenpeace Japan nuclear campaigner Ai Kashiwagi.
More on: www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/28/japan-nuclear-power-reactors-satsumasendai-fukushima