NIIGATA--A citizens advocacy group on Aug. 23 said it has collected enough signatures to call for a prefectural referendum on the restart of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.
The group, Minnade Kimeru Kai (Group to decide together), said it collected signatures from 50,726 voters, topping the required threshold of one-50th of Niigata voters, or roughly 40,000 people.
The signatures will allow the group to ask prefectural Governor Hirohiko Izumida to submit a public referendum ordinance to the prefectural assembly.
The group said it will start procedures for the direct request after the Niigata gubernatorial election in October.
TEPCO has said restarting the reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is vital in helping rebuild the troubled utility. However, errors were found in a stress test of the plant, the utility reported in January, and Izumida has expressed concerns about what he believes is TEPCO's rush to restart the reactors.
“(The referendum) will open up community-wide discussions,” Izumida said on Aug. 23.
However, similar petition drives to put referendums on nuclear power plants on the ballot in Tokyo and Osaka were rejected by the Tokyo metropolitan assembly and the Osaka city assembly even though enough certified signatures from voters were collected.
In Shizuoka Prefecture, the citizens group Genpatsu Kenmin Tohyo Shizuoka (A vote on nuclear power by Shizuoka people) has said it has collected enough signatures to call for a referendum on the restart of idled reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, operated by Chubu Electric Power Co.
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