TOKYO, Sept 15, 2012 (BSS/AFP) - Japan said Saturday it
would go ahead with planned work to complete three new nuclear
power reactors, despite saying a day earlier it would phase out
atomic power generation by 2040.
The construction of the reactors at three different plants
was suspended after a massive earthquake and tsunami sparked the
Fukushima nuclear crisis on March 11 last year -- the worst such
accident in a generation.
"We don't intend to withdraw the permission that has already
been given by the ministry," Yukio Edano, the minister of
economy, trade and industry, said as he met local administrators
in Aomori, northern Japan, according to reports.
Two of the reactors are located at plants in Aomori while
the third is in the western district of Shimane.
Edano added, however, that the start-up of the reactors
would be subject to approval by a newly created government
commission to regulate nuclear power.
On Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government
adopted a new energy policy, including the nuclear phase-out, in
what was widely seen as bowing to public pressure after the
Nuclear energy has become a hot issue in Japan ahead of a
snap general election expected this autumn. Protests have
attracted tens of thousands of people calling for atomic power to
be ditched. The new policy calls for reactors more than 40
years old to be shut down, plans to build more nuclear reactors
to be shelved and existing reactors only to be restarted if they
pass standards issued by the new regulatory agency.
Japan turned off its 50 reactors in the wake of the
Fukushima disaster but has restarted two of them due to the
possibility of summertime power shortages.
Japanese newspapers were divided over the new energy policy.
The influential Asahi Shimbun called the nuclear phase-out
"realistic", stressing that "nuclear power plants face enormous
risks and electric power companies have totally lost the nation's
But the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun said the government
should first have outlined how it intended to meet the shortfall
in energy production.
"It is extremely irresponsible for the government to tout
'zero nuclear power generation' without drawing up concrete steps
to secure electric power in a stable manner," it said.