A countdown is starting in Japan for restarting some of the 48 nuclear reactors that were idled after the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns caused the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl.
The nation's Nuclear Regulation Authority will receive applications for switching on plants starting July 8, and more than five utilities plan to seek permits. Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the wrecked Dai-Ichi plant that spread radiation in the Fukushima area, said yesterday it will seek permission to start its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant as soon as possible. Its shares jumped 19 percent yesterday.
Meeting new safety rules to restart is urgent for utilities bleeding cash from importing extra oil and gas for backup generation. Japan paid 24.7 trillion yen ($241 billion) for fossil fuels in the year ended in March, up 36 percent from the 12 months before the disaster. Imports this year are even more expensive with the yen's 14 percent drop against the dollar.
"The decision to seek this safety review is an important one," Tokyo Electric President Naomi Hirose told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo yesterday. "In our existing turnaround plan, restarts were scheduled from this past April. It's almost impossible to become profitable again when conditions are different from the ones anticipated in the plan."
Japan's nine utilities with atomic plants reported combined losses of 1.59 trillion yen ($16 billion) in the year ended March 31. Only Hokuriku Electric Power Co. posted a profit, ending the year 100 million yen ahead, and only two reactors are currently running, both belonging to Kansai Electric Power Co.
A lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who announced plans to take paternity leave has resigned over revelations that he engaged in an extra-marital affair while his wife was pregnant, reports TBS News (Feb. 12). (Tokyo Reporter)
Los Angeles alternative rock outfit Red Hot Chili Peppers and Icelandic post-rock trio Sigur Ros were among acts named Friday to perform at the 20th anniversary of Fuji Rock Festival in July. (Japan Times)
Japanese actor Ken Watanabe was diagnosed with an early-stage stomach cancer, his agent said Tuesday, adding the actor, who starred in a Broadway musical in 2015, has already undergone endoscopic surgery to remove it. (Kyodo)
The Japanese government decided at a cabinet meeting Tuesday to withdraw its recommendation of Christianity-related historic facilities and sites in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures for addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List. (Jiji Press)