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.
About 1,000 people lined up for the opening of Starbucks in Tottori City on Saturday morning. Tottori Prefecture was the final frontier for the popular coffee shop chain that now has more than 1,000 stores in Japan's 47 prefectures. (Japan Today)
Fugu pufferfish that make beautiful "crop circles" on the seabed off Amami-Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture have been chosen as one of the top 10 new species for 2015 by an international research institute, according to the National Museum of Nature and Science. (The Japan News)
Okayama Prefectural Police have launched an attempted murder investigation following the shooting of two organized crime members outside a hostess club in Tamano City early Saturday morning, reports the Sankei Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
In a crackdown on overcharging of customers, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Friday announced the bust of two hostess clubs in Shinjuku Ward for overcharging customers, reports the TBS News (May 22). (Tokyo Reporter)
Pedestrian crosswalk laws are all over the place no matter where you go. What's considered jaywalking varies by country, and in the U.S. each state has its own laws for exactly how far the pedestrian needs to have crossed on the crosswalk before you have to stop. (rocketnews24.com)