Economy, Industry and Trade Minister Yukio Edano on Saturday visited Fukui Prefecture to try and convince local government officials of the need to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant.
In a meeting open to the media, Edano met Fukui Gov Issei Nishikawa, while anti-nuclear demonstrators gathered outside the prefectural government building. Edano told Nishikawa that the reactors have been judged safe and that they need to be restarted in order to avert a power shortage. He promised that an uncompromising level of safety will be maintained, NHK reported.
Nishikawa said that he will give a formal response after a meeting of the prefectural assembly and after consulting with a panel of nuclear experts from Fukui. He emphasized that the community which hosts the nuclear power plant should be the one to decide.
The power plant is a major employer and there are fears that many workers would lose their jobs, devastating the local economy, if the reactors remain offline.
The issue is complicated because the governors of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, parts of which lie within 30 kilometers of the Oi plant, want a say in the matter. Furthermore, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has steadfastly refused to agree to a restart of the reactors. The Osaka government owns 8.9% of Kansai Electric Co, which operates the Oi plant.
Edano also met with Oi Mayor Shinobu Tokioka who said that the central government has lost public trust in its ability to ensure nuclear safety. He urged Edano to swiftly set up the long-delayed new nuclear regulatory agency.© Japan Today