New Kagoshima governor to seek suspension of Sendai reactors

Kyodo

Newly elected Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono said Thursday he will seek a temporary halt on active nuclear reactors in the prefecture, currently the only ones working nationwide.

“There are concerns over nuclear power plants following the Kumamoto earthquakes,” Mitazono said of the April disaster.

He was speaking in his first news conference since becoming governor. He was elected on an anti-nuclear ticket.

Mitazono added that Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant should be “halted once, to conduct checks and reviews again.”

The No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant is scheduled to go offline for routine checks on Oct. 6, but Mitazono may submit his request for a suspension as early as August.

The No. 1 and No. 2 units at the plant resumed operation last year in August and October, respectively, becoming the first two reactors to be brought back online under stricter safety rules imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

No other reactors are currently online in Japan amid lingering public fears over safety. Some are subject to court injunctions, but others are gearing up for a restart.

The governor is not authorized to stop the operation of reactors, but a safety accord reached between the prefectural government and the plant operator allows local government officials to enter the plant to confirm whether safety steps are being taken.

Kyushu Electric Power is likely to insist that Sendai is safe.

In the July 10 gubernatorial election, 58-year-old Mitazono, a former TV Asahi Corp. commentator, defeated previous Gov. Yuichiro Ito, 68, who was seeking his fourth four-year term with the support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito.