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.
The spreading meat scandal in China prompted Japan Wednesday to tighten inspections of food imports as Chinese authorities detained five employees of a Shanghai supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken. (Japan Times)
The Japanese government assured South Korea on Wednesday that it will uphold an official apology over frontline brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II that mainly recruited Asian women as prostitutes. (Kyodo)
The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the first half of 2014 hit a record high of 6.26 million thanks to the yen's weakness and increased international flights at Tokyo's Haneda airport, a government body said Wednesday. (Nikkei)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Wednesday visited a temporary shopping center, opened after the March 2011 disaster, in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (Jiji Press)
A group of residents from a village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is planning to file for state arbitration so all villagers can be entitled to equal damages regardless of radiation levels of their areas. (NHK)
Inventor and performance artist Showta Mori has been getting a taste of internet fame recently for his videos featuring his quick-draw, arm-mounted iPhone sleeve gun, but that's far from his only creation or even his weirdest creation. (rocketnews24.com)
A 49-year-old man arrested Saturday on suspicion of confining an 11-year-old girl at his house here has told police he wanted to be with the girl forever, according to a source related to the investigation. (The Japan News)