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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 April 28 - May 11  > Gov't will restart 40-year-old N-reactors, ignoring safety concerns
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2021 April 28 - May 11 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov't will restart 40-year-old N-reactors, ignoring safety concerns

May 9, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Responding to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kajiyama Hiroshi proclaiming that Japan "will continue to utilize nuclear energy into the future," Fukui Prefectural Governor Sugimoto Tatsuji on April 28 agreed to allow the reactivation of the No.3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO)'s Mihama nuclear power plant and of the Nos.1 and 2 reactors at its Takahama NPP. These three reactors will be the first to resume their operations among reactors that are over 40 years old.

The restart of aging reactors will increase the risk of accidents and is a reckless act which disregards the safety of not only local residents but all people.

The relevant law was revised after the 2011 nuclear meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi NPP, setting a limit of 40 years of operation in principle. The extension of the period regarding over 40-year-old reactors is "extremely exceptional", according to the revised law.

The Suga government is planning to raise the percentage of nuclear energy to 20% of the nation's total power generation by fiscal 2030. To achieve this, the government is seeking to standardize the operation of over 40-year-old reactors. The government sees the Mihama and Takahama NPPs as "breakthroughs" for the resumption of operations of other aging reactors. It even proposed to offer subsidies of up to 2.5 billion yen per plant whose operations exceed 40 years.

Kyushu Electric Power Co., on the same day as the Fukui governor expressed his approval of restarting the three reactors, announced that the utility will start preparations for the extension of operations of the Nos.1 and 2 reactors at the Sendai NPP (Kagoshima Pref.). In the coming five years, the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama NPP and the No.1 reactor at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP (Niigata Pref.) will turn 40 years old. To reduce the risk of nuclear accidents, it is very important for these reactors to be decommissioned to abide by the use limit principle.

The Suga government claims that it is necessary to continue to use nuclear power in dealing with climate change. However, once a nuclear accident happens, it will contaminate the nearby environment and devastate local communities. It is unacceptable for the government to justify the use of nuclear power by using climate control as an excuse.

In efforts to tackle climate change, the need is to diffuse renewables and further promote energy saving. The government should give up on reactivating aging reactors and should implement a "zero-nuclear power" policy.

Past related article:
> Extension of ‘40-year’ limit to operation of nuclear reactors deepens public concern over nuclear power generation[November 21, 2016]
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