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 car was partially buried due to small mudslide and three people sustained injuries after a magnitude-5.6 quake hit a wide area of Kanto region in Japan around noon on Tuesday, according to local report. (shanghaidaily.com)
The government had lifted a vehicle ban on National Route 6 through the area where residency is restricted due to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, the first time that stretch of highway has been open to automobiles since the nuclear crisis began in March 2011. (Japan Times)
The number of people aged 65 or older in Japan comes to a record 32.96 million as of Monday, accounting for an all-time high of 25.9 pct of the nation's total population, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications estimated Sunday. (Jiji Press)
The Asahi Shimbun, under fire for erroneous reports on Japan's wartime military brothels and the testimony of the late chief of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, revealed Sunday yet another scandal, saying it fabricated an interview with the president of Nintendo Co. (Kyodo)