Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said May 11 he could allow reactors to restart at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture even before the planned new nuclear regulatory agency is established.
The government is eager to reactivate the No. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant, but it has faced opposition because of safety concerns. Noda’s government intended to set up the new nuclear power regulatory body in April to help alleviate such fears, but that plan has been delayed by bickering between the ruling and opposition camps in the Diet.
“I could make the decision without waiting for the agency,” Noda told reporters.
Noda said the agency will make its decision on restarting the two Oi reactors after it comes into being. However, he plans to give the go-ahead early if local consent is obtained.
“There must not be a vacuum in nuclear energy administration,” the prime minister said.
Japan currently has no nuclear reactors online. Kansai Electric has warned that the Kansai region will face power shortages in the summer if the Oi reactors are not restarted.
Noda said he appreciated the counterproposal for the new nuclear regulatory agency by the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, but he noted that some points need to be examined.
“The root is the same (as the government proposal),” he said. “The issue is how we will meet halfway.”
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