OSAKA--Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has admitted to "defeat" in battling the central government and preventing two idle nuclear reactors in neighboring Fukui Prefecture being reactivated.
Currently, none of Japan's 50 nuclear power reactors are operating as most are shut down for routine maintenance checks.
Public anxiety over last year's disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has hampered the central government's efforts to restart the reactors.
However, it is pushing to have the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant back online soon, so as to avoid a power crunch this summer.
After espousing a staunch anti-nuclear stance, Hashimoto backed down and said May 31 he would approve the restart of the two reactors at the Oi plant.
"Frankly, there is nothing I can do if people say I lost," he told reporters on June 1. "I regret that I couldn't continue with my opposition."
Hashimoto also said he would retract his April remark that the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which concluded the restarts were appropriate, should be "toppled."
He said that an underlying premise for his belligerent comment ceased to exist when Goshi Hosono, the Cabinet minister in charge of nuclear power policy, told a meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments on May 30 that the current safety standards were only temporary.
"I denounced the DPJ government (in April) because it deceived the public by declaring the plants were safe, although it turns out that the judgment about safety was provisional," Hashimoto said.
He added that his confrontational stance toward the central government has "come to an end."
Hashimoto argued that restarts of the nuclear reactors should have a limited time span restricted to peak demand in summer, and then be shut down again. He said he would make calls to public opinion to put a brake on the central government if Tokyo continues operating the nuclear reactors into the autumn.
"If Oi's operations are to drag on, people will think the DPJ government is wrong," he said.
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