The Ministry of International Trade and Industry will conduct on-site inspections next week of the nation’s 51 nuclear power plants, trade chief Takashi Fukaya said Thursday.

He said the inspections are part of an ongoing effort to prevent a recurrence of last month’s nuclear accident in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and ease public anxiety about the safety of nuclear energy.

Starting early next week, MITI officials will be sent to 16 sites to make sure that operators are running nuclear power plants in accordance with legitimate safety manuals, Fukaya told an ad-hoc meeting between MITI officials and representatives of 10 power firms.

This type of en masse inspections of safety manuals is unprecedented, officials of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency said.

In an attempt to confirm whether the firms were using adequate manuals and implementing safety procedures based on the law regulating nuclear reactors, Fukaya on Oct. 4 instructed them to submit reports to MITI; they complied the same day.

During Thursday’s meeting, Fukaya said there won’t be the slightest change in the nation’s basic policy of pursuing nuclear energy. He also said he would step up joint efforts with the electric industry to restore public trust in nuclear power development.

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