Prime minister wants safety first before restarting reactors

March 25, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture--Visiting the prefecture that hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on March 24 reiterated that consideration of restarting suspended nuclear reactors hinges on guaranteeing their safety, although he believes the power supply is vital to the region's reconstruction.

“It will be difficult to recover (from the disaster) if there aren’t stable sources of electricity,” Abe, who visited the towns of Tomioka and Namie in the prefecture, told reporters.

“I am reminded that the nuclear disaster has had a significant impact (on Fukushima Prefecture). I would like to decide (whether to restart reactors) after thoroughly ensuring their safety."

The latest inspection is Abe’s second visit to the prefecture since he became prime minister in December. Currently 48 of the nation's 50 nuclear reactors have been suspended as a consequence of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where three reactor meltdowns occurred following an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

On March 24, Abe talked with the mayors of Tomioka and Namie over future issues and other topics. Residents of the two towns have not been allowed to return since the disaster, but they will be allowed to make brief visits, excluding areas designated by the government as where people cannot live for more than six years from the accident due to high radiation levels, from March 25 and April 1, respectively.

Abe showed his intention to improve the infrastructure there, saying the government will “develop facilities for the gas and water supply.”

Abe also visited Naraha, a town next to Tomioka, and encouraged police officers working at the Kami-Shigeoka checkpoint there.

“Your responsibilities will become more important when brief visits (to Tomioka) become possible,” Abe said.

The prime minister also visited a farm utilizing plastic greenhouses in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. Abe showed his desire to hurry along reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto, who accompanied him, into taking measures to alleviate the damaging effects that negative publicity from the nuclear disaster have had on local farmers.

“The task of politics is to dispel these rumors (that are ruining the reputation of farm goods made in Fukushima),” Abe said.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto, center, visit a shopping district in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 24 for an on-site inspection. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, left, briefs them on the current situation there. (Pool)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto, center, visit a shopping district in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 24 for an on-site inspection. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, left, briefs them on the current situation there. (Pool)

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  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto, center, visit a shopping district in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 24 for an on-site inspection. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, left, briefs them on the current situation there. (Pool)

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