National | CABINET INTERVIEW

'No change' in atomic restart policy, says new industry minister

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

New industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa said Thursday he will try to persuade residents near the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture why its two reactors should no longer stand idle.

“The first thing that I’d like to address is that the reactors have met the new safety standards created by the Nuclear Regulation Authority,” Miyazawa told reporters Thursday. “I’ll need to tell them that those safety standards are the strictest worldwide.”

“My job is to get the understanding of the local communities on that,” he added.

Miyazawa became industry minister Tuesday after predecessor Yuko Obuchi resigned the previous day over a political funds scandal.

Miyazawa has said he is ready to visit communities near the plant as soon as possible, because the Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly was urging Obuchi to go and meet local residents during her short-lived term in office.

On Thursday Miyazawa met with Hideo Iwakiri, the mayor of Satsumasendai, which hosts the Sendai plant, and told him that despite a change of ministers there will be no change in the policy of restarting the reactors.

The Abe administration argues that any reactors that meet the beefed-up safety standards drawn up by the NRA should be fired up to reduce the expense of importing fuel for thermal power stations.

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