Industry seeks nuke restarts

Kyodo

Nine industry bodies, including the Japan Iron and Steel Federation and the Japan Mining Industry Association, urged the government Thursday to swiftly restart the nation’s atomic reactors and take steps to prevent higher electricity charges from impacting their businesses.

The groups submitted a petition to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry warning that Japan’s industries could be hollowed out by higher power costs.

They said manufacturers that consume vast amounts of electricity will find it “extremely difficult to continue business in Japan.”

Since the triple core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011, utilities have had to rely on thermal power generation to supply electricity, jacking up fossil fuel costs.

To finance those costs, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which managed the poorly protected Fukushima plant, hiked electricity rates last April for some corporate customers.

Kansai Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. applied for permission to do the same thing last November.

The nine industry bodies called for the swift implementation of safety checks at nuclear plants and for financial and tax measures to cushion the blow of higher electricity prices.

At present, 48 of the nation’s 50 commercial nuclear reactors remain offline due to growing public alarm about the government’s ability to manage nuclear power plants.