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.
Nineteen more people were confirmed by the health ministry on Monday to have contracted dengue fever in Tokyo, following three last week and bringing the total number to 22 in the first cases of domestic infection in Japan since 1945. (Nikkei)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the famous Toji Temple in Kyoto on Sunday, the second day of his five-day official visit to Japan aimed at bolstering the two countries' security and economic ties. (Kyodo)
A two-day festival to highlight the charm of Japan's Tohoku region started in a park in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Saturday morning to help reconstruction of the region devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami some three years ago. (Jiji Press)
The body of a Japanese man was found floating in the Hudson River last week and may have been shot in the head, according to the New York City Police Department and Consulate General of Japan in New York. (Japan Times)
The Hiroshima prefectural police department said Friday that it has identified all 72 people who have been confirmed dead so far in the massive landslides that hit the city of Hiroshima last week. (The Japan News)