Senior industry ministry official ‘begs’ for reactor restarts

Kyodo

Senior vice industry minister Isao Matsumiya said he is “begging” the Nuclear Regulation Authority to allow the restart of the country’s idled nuclear reactors, a statement that could be seen as pressuring the independent body.

His remarks Thursday during a meeting with officials of the Hokkaido Prefectural Government and the ministry’s local bureau on winter power-saving measures, contrasts with those of industry minister Yukio Edano, Matsumiya’s boss, who has placed importance on the NRA’s independence in making key decisions.

“I am begging the NRA to enable the restart of suspended reactors nationwide as soon as possible,” Matsumiya said. “It is impossible for utilities to survive if a situation like this continues next year and the year after next. I hope this kind of problem will not emerge again next year.”

Of the 50 operational reactors nationwide, only two — at Oi in Fukui Prefecture — have been allowed to restart since the Fukushima meltdowns the March 2011. Since the crisis started, the public has turned against atomic power and all reactors are required to undergo stress tests to ascertain their survivability.

Matsumiya, a Lower House member from Fukui Prefecture, site of many reactors, is also an ex-industry ministry bureaucrat.