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 Japanese reporter indicted on charges of defaming South Korean President Park Geun Hye in an article about her whereabouts during April's deadly ferry disaster pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing Thursday at the Seoul Central District Court. (Kyodo)
Otsu District Court turned down demands Thursday from local residents to block the restart of four nuclear reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s <9503> Oi and Takahama power stations in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan. (Jiji Press)
The Utsunomiya District Court in Tochigi Prefecture on Wednesday convicted two men over the illegal disposal of a body after they dumped the body of a young woman in a cardboard box near a quarry in Sano on Aug 4. (Japan Today)
The number of people injured in the earthquake that struck northern Nagano Prefecture over the weekend has risen to 45, according to prefectural authorities, while 690 houses were left without running water. (Japan Times)
The fraudulent composer once dubbed "Japan's Beethoven" is facing a lawsuit over the cancellation of his tour after it emerged he lied about his work and relied on a ghostwriter, reports said Tuesday.
Police in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, said Tuesday that around 16,000 New Year greeting cards ("nengajo") have been stolen from 26 Lawson convenience stores. Security cameras have captured footage of two men who are believed to be the thieves. (Japan Today)