Edano apologizes for remarks on active reactors

Kyodo

Industry minister Yukio Edano apologized Tuesday for his recent remarks that the nation will be without operating nuclear reactors only “momentarily” from May 6, when the last currently active reactor goes offline for maintenance.

“I should have said (the number of operating reactors) will be zero at least for a while,” Edano said at a news conference, referring to a speech he delivered Sunday in Tokushima Prefecture.

He said his view remains unchanged that it will be difficult to restart two of the reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture before May 5 and that there will be a period of time when no reactors are operating.

“I apologize for the concerns and effects that my remarks caused to various people,” Edano said.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Edano and two other ministers confirmed Friday the safety and necessity of resuming reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi complex.

Meanwhile, the governors of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, adjacent to Fukui Prefecture, remain reluctant to see the reactors reactivated and Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa asked Edano on Saturday during a meeting in Fukui Prefecture to carefully consider the views of the other prefectures.

On Tuesday, Edano denied that the administration is in a rush to resume operation of the Oi reactors and said it will be “very important to win understanding” for their reactivation from Shiga and Kyoto as a way to win the backing of Fukui Prefecture.

Since the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant began, none of the nation’s reactors have resumed operation after being taken offline for mandatory periodic checks, and the two Oi reactors are the first to be considered by the administration for possible reactivation.

Only the No. 3 reactor at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari plant is currently operating. It is slated to shut down May 5.