Stressing the difficulty of rebuilding the nation without nuclear power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a visit to Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Sunday that he will decide whether to restart reactors after assessing their safety.
Abe was in Fukushima to check on the progress of reconstruction in areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.
"Reconstruction will be hard without an inexpensive and stable source of power," the prime minister said, vowing to dispel "harmful rumors" stemming from the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Abe visited farmers in Koriyama, who have been hit by public concern over the radioactive contamination of their products, and the largely deserted shopping district of the town of Namie, also in Fukushima.
Responding to a request from Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba for the swift restoration of infrastructure, Abe assured him that rebuilding work will be accelerated.
The entire town is designated as a no-go zone, but the boundaries of the zone will be redrawn April 1, when residents will be allowed to temporarily visit some parts during the daytime.
No nuclear hires in 2014
Japan Atomic Power Co. has decided not to hire any new graduates in spring 2014 because its earnings are slumping along with the nationwide reactor suspensions, informed sources said.
The specialized nuclear power utility plans to receive debt guarantees and other financing from major utilities that have stakes in it. But the company is facing an uncertain future because of new regulatory hurdles preventing it from restarting a pair of reactors at its Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture that are sitting on what is suspected to be an active fault.
Its reactor at the Tokai No. 2 plant in Ibaraki Prefecture also remains idle.
Student interest in nuclear science majors has been declining since the March 2011 disasters.