Japan to be without Nuclear Power

Japan will be fully without nuclear power on Sunday as Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi No. 4 reactor is shut down for regular safety inspections, officials said.

This will be the first time Japan is without nuclear power since July 2012, The Japan Times reported.

Inspections of nuclear reactors normally take four to six weeks.

“Safety is important, but if you waste time, that too has an effect on safety. The Fukui nuclear power plant sites have a long history and respond to risks. My position is therefore different from other prefectural governors,” said Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, who has said he would like to see the inspection be completed as soon as possible.

Japan relies on nuclear power for about 32 percent of its electricity prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.



Noda Visits Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda toured the crippled Fukushima power station on Sunday in a show of resolve over the nuclear disaster there, amid strong public scepticism about his energy policy. Noda, who reshuffled his cabinet last week before a possible snap general election, encouraged the crews who worked to contain the plants dangerous molten reactors after last years earthquake and tsunami, TV footage showed. “I believe that Japan has survived as we see it now thanks to your dedicated work,” the premier told about a dozen people who carried on working inside the power station after the catastrophe struck on March 11, 2011.

Read the rest of the story: Noda visits Fukushima nuclear plant.



TEPCO Ordered To Cut Rate Hike

The government said Thursday it will order Tokyo Electric Power Co. to trim its rate hike for households to an average of 8.47 percent from its planned 10.28 percent after determining the utility can further reduce salaries to limit the additional cost burden on consumers.

The rate hike, to take effect Sept. 1, along with the planned injection of ¥1 trillion in public funds, is considered essential for Tepco to overcome its financial plight stemming from the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Noting that Tepco will be asked to reduce by about ¥83 billion the total costs it initially planned to pass on to customers, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano said, “After confirming that Tepco has revised its application (on the rate hike) as ordered, I will give permission.”

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Cooling System Knocked Out in Fukushima’s No. 4 Reactor Pool

The cooling system of the spent-fuel pool in reactor 4 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant automatically suspended operations Saturday and the water temperature is starting to rise, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The utility has been unable to activate a backup cooling system for the pool since operations halted at around 6.25 a.m., and is looking into the causes, Tepco officials said later in the day.The pools water temperature stood at around 31 degrees Celsius when the cooling system ceased functioning and was increasing by 0.26 degree per hour late Saturday afternoon, according to the officials

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Japan may go ‘momentarily’ without nuclear power

Japan may go “momentarily” without nuclear power next month when the only one reactor still in operation shuts down for maintenance work, the country’s industry minister warned Sunday.

Yukio Edano made the comment as the government prepared to restart two offline nuclear reactors amid criticism from media and environmental groups sceptical over the safety of atomic power after the Fukushima accident.

“The number of nuclear reactors operating across the country may go down to zero, perhaps momentarily, from May 6,” he said in a seminar in Tokushima, western Japan.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced on Friday that it was safe and necessary to restart the reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in western Japan, which could help prevent power shortages in the summer months.

Only one of Japan’s 54 reactors – in northernmost Hokkaido – is in operation at present, but it is scheduled to be shut down for maintenance work on May 5.

But it was not certain if and when the government could gain approval from regional authorities around the Oi plant for the reactors to be restarted amid persistent public distrust.

“Without nuclear reactors, it is understandable that there will be considerable strain on many areas in this summer,” Edano added.

Edano on Saturday called on the governor of Fukui, where the Oi plant is located. The governor, Issei Nishikawa, did not give an immediate response to his request for approval of the plan.

But the major daily Mainichi Shimbun said Sunday: “It is hard to understand why the government is in such a haste to restart the reactors.”

It added in an editorial that more thorough checks were needed to ensure safety.

“Independent studies show that there will be no power shortages,” said Wakao Hanaoka, the Japan campaign manager for the environment watchdog Greenpeace.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in March last year caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. None of reactors shut for regular checks before the disaster have resumed operation amid safety concerns.

“The nuclear industry and the government were totally unprepared for the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi and now they are trying to pretend they can call Oi safe without improving safety or emergency measures,” Hanaoka said.

The government set criteria nine days ago for restarting nuclear reactors included measures to prevent a nuclear accident even if reactors are hit by natural disasters as severe as those that ravaged the Fukushima plant.

“It is uncertain if the plan will ever gain an understanding of communities which have raised objections to the resumption of the reactors,” the Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday.

The influential daily criticised the Noda administration for being “inconsistent” over its nuclear power policy.

Before Noda took office last September, he promised to follow his predecessor Naoto Kan in ridding Japan of nuclear power, Asahi said.

But he backtracked last January when he said in a policy speech that the resources-poor country would reduce its dependence on nuclear power “as much as possible on a medium- and long-term basis”.

Striking a more positive tone, the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun called on Noda to visit Fukui himself and “speak clearly in his own words about his government’s energy policy and why it is necessary to restart reactors”.

Japan Announces 40-year Nuclear Plant Cleanup Plan for Fukushima

Japan has released a new long-term cleanup plan for its tsunami-hit nuclear plant that would take as many as 40 years to fully decommission while keeping the still vulnerable facility safely under control.

Trade Minister Yukio Edano said Wednesday that the government plans to move through the process firmly and safely while paying attention to the views of residents displaced by the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Read the rest of the story: Japan releases 40-year nuke plant cleanup plan.

First Nuclear Reactor Since Japan’s March 11th Disaster Restarts

A nuclear reactor in western Japan began starting back up on Tuesday after a month’s hiatus, the first reactor in the country closed for any reason to win approval from a local government to resume operations since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that set off the nuclear disaster, a popular backlash against nuclear power has halted the reopening of reactors closed because of damage at the time or unrelated glitches, or for routine inspections. Regulations require reactors to close at least every 13 months for checks, meaning more and more reactors have gone out of service, with none allowed to restart — until Tuesday.

Only 10 of Japan’s 54 reactors are now generating electricity, a sharp reduction for an industry that once supplied 30 percent of the country’s electricity. The shortfall in supply forced the Tokyo Electric Power Company to tell companies to slash energy use by 15 percent this summer.

Read the rest of the story: Reactor in Japan Restarts, a First Since the Tsunami.

Japan Nuclear Companies Stacked Public Meetings

An independent investigation in Japan has revealed a long history of nuclear power companies conspiring with governments to manipulate public opinion in favour of nuclear energy.

One nuclear company even stacked public meetings with its own employees who posed as ordinary citizens to speak in support of nuclear power plants.

"The number one reactor has been operating for 30 years and I’ve never had a problem selling my rice or vegetables because of fears of radiation," a man posing as a farmer told a gathering of citizens discussing a proposal to use plutonium fuel at the Genkai nuclear plant on the southern island of Kyushu.

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Japan to decrease nuclear power

The number of Japan’s nuclear plants could dwindle to zero in the future, Japanese Industry Minister Yoshio Hachiro said.

Based on Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s policy of not building new nuclear power plants and decommissioning aged ones, "it would be zero," Hachiro told reporters when asked whether the number of nuclear plants in the country would be reduced.

Noda replaced Naoto Kan, who stepped down a week ago amid criticism over his handling of the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

Noda has suggested Japan will eventually phase out nuclear power generation in the resource-poor nation, Asia’s second-largest economy.

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Japan’s PM Says He’ll Continue to Phase-Out Nuclear Power

Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, promised on Friday to keep Japan on its path of phasing out nuclear power, saying it was “unrealistic” to build any new reactors in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis or to extend those at the end of their life spans.

In his first speech to the nation as prime minister, Mr. Noda, Japan’s former finance minister and a fiscal conservative, also said Japan would seek to rebuild its tattered finances even as it pays for reconstruction after the country’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in March.

“Speeding up the recovery and reconstruction process is our biggest mission. We must also work to bring the nuclear crisis to an end as swiftly as possible,” Mr. Noda said. “But our finances are also on the brink. We must strike a balance between economic growth and fiscal discipline.”

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Premier Says He’ll Keep Nuclear Phase-Out.