Japan’s last operational nuclear reactor to go offline
Since the earthquake and tsunami devastated the country’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility on 11 March last year, all but one of Japan’s 54 reactors have been taken offline for routine maintenance or safety checks. With public opposition to nuclear power strong, none has yet restarted. Japan’s last operational reactor, on the northern island of Hokkaido – will go offline on 5 May.
But with a third of Japan’s energy previously nuclear, political pressure to reopen the reactors is mounting. Last week the country’s prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, laid out the case in The Washington Post. He argues that importing energy is a crippling cost to industry.
On Monday, a report by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, also warned of dire consequences if Japan rejected a nuclear future. “Decommissioning nuclear power plants is expensive and any rapid change would jeopardise Japan’s energy security, and increase its dependence on fossil fuel imports,” it concluded.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan this week floated a plan to restart the Ikata reactor in Ehime Prefecture (pictured), but there are doubts about whether any plants should restart before a new safety watchdog is set up.