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.
Japan's Empress Michiko is set to receive checkups on her coronary artery using computed tomography on Aug. 9 at the University of Tokyo Hospital due to suspected myocardial ischemia, the Imperial Household Agency said Wednesday. (Jiji Press)
The rainy season appears to be over in Japan's two remaining regions to the southwest and northeast, the weather agency said on Wednesday, declaring an end to the early summer wet period throughout the archipelago. (Japan Times)
The Japanese government is set to put forward the island of Okinoshima in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and related ancient sites in the region for UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2017. (Jiji Press)
Japan's parliament enacted Tuesday a bill aimed at merging some constituencies for the first time in a bid to reduce vote-value disparities in the electoral system for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber. (Jiji Press)
As a part of a crackdown on illegal drugs connected to musician Aska, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday announced the arrest of a boss in an organized crime group, reports the Mainichi Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
It was a triple murder that shocked a nation already reeling from the crime spree by a doomsday religious cult, coming just four months after the cult's deadly nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. (Japan Today)
The pilot of a light plane that crashed into a residential area in the Tokyo suburb of Chofu on Sunday had run a pilot training firm without permission from the transport ministry, it was learned Monday. (Jiji Press)
Wakayama Prefectural Police on Saturday arrested a 64-year-old man from Osaka after the body of a woman was found in a car parked in front of a love hotel in Gobo City, reports the Asahi Shimbun (July 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
Out of nearly 6,000 applicants, 22 young women and girls emerged from the final stage of highly competitive auditions on July 25 to be the first-generation members of idol group NGT48, based in Niigata Prefecture. (Asahi)