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.
One of three male teenagers arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing a 13-year-old boy along the Tama River in Kawasaki has told police that the ringleader threatened him, too, with death, investigative sources said Sunday. (Japan Times)
The last section of the Joban Expressway, designed to connect the Tokyo metropolitan area with the Tohoku northeastern region, opened to traffic on Sunday after delays caused by the nuclear crisis that began almost four years ago. (The Japan News)
A 57-year-old man being investigated on a charge of possession of illegal drugs, who escaped from police by stealing a taxi in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Feb 6, has turned himself in a police station. (Japan Today)
Japanese actress Rei Dan has been appointed an international goodwill ambassador for Japanese cuisine ("washoku"). Her mission is to spread appreciation for the many charms of "washoku," the agriculture ministry said. (Japan Today)