Pushing back, Fukui governor calls for clear nuclear policy

Kyodo

The central government should clarify its nuclear policy as it bids to restart two reactors in Fukui Prefecture, Gov. Issei Nishikawa told visiting senior vice industry minister Seishu Makino on Tuesday.

“We want (the government) to clearly show its stance . . . to citizens,” Nishikawa said during a meeting with Makino at the prefectural government office in Fukui.

“There is no change in our view that nuclear power is an important source of power,” Makino responded, while promising to give Nishikawa’s request due consideration.

Makino was in Fukui to win local support for reactivating reactors 3 and 4 at the Kansai Electric Power Co. power plant in the town of Oi on the Sea of Japan coast.

The central government wants to restart the two reactors to cope with an expected shortfall of electricity this summer. All of Japan’s 50 commercial reactors are now offline amid heightened public concern over nuclear safety in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.

Local leaders near the Oi plant, such as the governors of Shiga and Kyoto, are resisting pressure to allow the reactor restarts. Nishikawa has challenged the central government to convince them of the need to do so.

The Oi Municipal Assembly decided Monday to support the restart of the two reactors to avoid damage to the local economy and employment that might result from a prolonged halt.

Industry minister Yukio Edano said the decision by the Oi assembly shows the government is making its case.

“I think this is a sign that we are winning a certain degree of consent” for the reactors’ restart, Edano said Tuesday.