Japan holds off on decision to restart reactors

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 20:28

Tokyo: Japan needs more time to decide whether to restart two offline nuclear reactors, the trade minister said on Tuesday, as concerns about a summer power crunch vie with safety worries in the wake of last year`s Fukushima crisis.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will not make any immediate decision on a restart date, Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who holds the energy portfolio, told reporters.

Tokyo: Japan needs more time to decide whether to restart two offline nuclear reactors, the trade minister said on Tuesday, as concerns about a summer power crunch vie with safety worries in the wake of last year`s Fukushima crisis.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will not make any immediate decision on a restart date, Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who holds the energy portfolio, told reporters.

Energy markets are keen to know when the Ohi reactors will go back on line. Their restart could reduce imports of liquefied natural gas equivalent by about 2 million metric tonnes (2.2 million tons) a year.

To make up for the lost nuclear power, Japan`s utilities burned 25 percent more imported liquefied natural gas - equivalent to a total of 51.8 million tonnes - and 150 percent more crude oil in the year to February, according to the latest power industry data.

The government, however, must persuade wary locals that the plants are safe after last year`s nine-magnitude earthquake and tsunami triggered the world`s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Nuclear power supplied about 30 percent of Japan`s electricity before the crisis, and Noda`s administration is now debating what role it should play in the future.

Japan`s defenses against another major tsunami and the safety of its nuclear plants were thrown into further doubt after two official studies released at the weekend predicted much higher waves could hit and that Tokyo quake damage could be bigger than it was prepared for.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 20:28

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