/

LDP lawmakers form group to push for restart of nuclear reactors

Kyodo

Dozens of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party launched a group Tuesday to push for the restart of the country’s idled nuclear reactors, saying a stable power supply is key to achieving economic growth.

“This is a Diet members’ league to map out the importance of nuclear power,” Tsuyoshi Takagi, one of the lawmakers who organized the move, told reporters, though acknowledging the strong public opposition to atomic power since the 2011 start of the Fukushima No. 1 plant’s triple-meltdown disaster, which prompted massive evacuations as well as widespread fallout and contamination and areas still uninhabitable.

The group, led by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, plans to compile a proposal by the time the Diet session ends in June after studying what safety measures were taken at nuclear plants and the situation of areas where such facilities exist. Communities hosting nuclear power complexes have come out to say they fear their economic lifeline will be in jeopardy if most of the nation’s reactors remain idled.

The Tuesday meeting was attended by about 45 House of Representatives and House of Councilors members, according to Takagi.

The latest move came as the Nuclear Regulation Authority prepares to introduce new safety regulations for commercial reactors in July.

Once the regulations come into force, utilities are expected to start applying for the NRA safety assessments that they need to clear in order to restart operations.

Of the 50 commercial reactors in Japan, only two, in Fukui Prefecture, are currently online.

The LDP is also currently compiling policy pledges ahead of the July Upper House election that sources have said will stipulate the need to restart reactors that are confirmed to be safe.