Japan’s New Government Sticks to Three-year Nuclear Safety Goal

Japan’s new government said on Friday it hoped to stick to a three year deadline to decide whether to restart all nuclear reactors after safety checks, despite the country’s newly formed nuclear regulator saying the deadline was impossible to meet.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is also responsible for energy policy, said reactors would be restarted as units received the all-clear from the atomic regulator.

“We will rely on the NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority) to judge safety from an expert point of view and will not restart ones as long as safety is not confirmed,” Motegi told a news conference.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said in an interview in the Asahi newspaper on Friday that completing safety checks within the three-year timeframe set by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be impossible to meet.

All but two of Japan’s 50 reactors remain switched off after an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi station in northeastern Japan in March 2011.

Atomic energy supplied about 30 percent of Japan’s needs before Fukushima, but since the disaster support for nuclear power has plummeted.

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