Japan approves Tepco’s first reactor restart since Fukushima
This week Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) gained initial safety approval from the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to reactivate two main reactors within the world’s biggest nuclear power plant.
This safety agreement marks the first approval Tepco has gained for restarting reactors since the incident at the Fukushima plant back in 2011.
The Fukushima incident led to the complete closure of all nuclear power plants in Japan. Despite the challenges the nuclear industry has faced, the NRA were overwhelmingly in support towards approving the restart of no. 6 and 7 reactors based at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.
Barriers to nuclear plant restart
Despite the safety approvals from the NRA, it is likely that it will potentially take several years before the restart of the reactors. There are also additional challenges that could hinder the restart of nuclear reactors in Japan. The governor located within the region where Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is located stated that no restart would occur, until there has been a total and detailed review of the Fukushima incident.
The general public in Japan is showing signs of opposition towards nuclear plant reactivation with majority polls indicating a shift away from nuclear power.
A recent snap election called by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also raise questions regarding the future of nuclear power industry and availability of nuclear jobs in Japan. The Liberal Democratic Party support the reactivation of nuclear power, but an opposition party led by a popular governor of Tokyo are campaigning for nuclear power to be phased out. Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, believes Japan should be moving away from nuclear power and the restart of nuclear plants would create more issues to an industry that he believes has been struggling since Fukushima.