Another official Fukui visit to push Oi restart

JIJI

The government will send a senior industry ministry official to Fukui Prefecture again in hopes of ending the impasse over the restart of idled reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant, sources said.

Industry minister Yukio Edano visited the prefecture on April 14 and requested Gov. Issei Nishikawa’s cooperation for the government-endorsed early restart of reactors 3 and 4 at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant, but the governor has yet to give his answer.

On April 26, Senior Vice Industry Minister Mitsuyoshi Yanagisawa joined a meeting during which the situation was explained to invited Oi residents. Fukui Prefecture will thus have had a minister or vice minister from the ministry for the third time since the central government determined in April that the reactors can be restarted.

In Tokyo’s latest attempt, Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seishu Makino will be dispatched to Fukui as early as this week in hopes of securing local support for the reactors’ restart, the sources said.

Fukui Prefecture is calling on the central government to make more efforts to ensure the safety of the plant. Many local governments in the Kansai region, where electricity produced at atomic plants in Fukui Prefecture is mainly consumed, are worried that a crisis at any of the Fukui plants could result in another nuclear disaster like that started last year in Fukushima Prefecture.

Nishikawa has asked a prefectural panel of experts to evaluate the plant’s safety and expressed his intention to listen to views of the prefectural assembly and of people who live in Oi. No conclusion has yet been reached on these processes.

In the upcoming meeting Makino, who has explained the reasons for the government’s endorsement of the restart of the reactors to officials in Shiga and Kyoto prefectures, is expected to talk about progress in efforts sought by Nishikawa.

Evacuees sue Tepco

Evacuees from areas affected by the triple-meltdown crisis that started last year at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant who relocated to western Japan sought ¥254 million in damages Monday from Tokyo Electric Power Co. through arbitration by a public body.

The 25 people from eight households in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, who now live in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, filed for arbitration at the government’s nuclear accident dispute settlement center.

They chose to use the out-of-court procedure called alternative dispute resolution as this costs less and is faster than other methods to seek compensation, including a lawsuit against the power utility.

A lawyer group working on behalf of evacuees in western Japan said it is negotiating with the center to hold oral proceedings in Osaka to lighten the burden of the victims.

“My 2- and 4-year-old children became mentally unstable, crying at night,” a 30-year-old woman who has moved to Miki, Hyogo Prefecture, from Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture, said at a press conference.