Most Japanese oppose nuclear reactor restarts

Updated: 2011-06-27 14:10


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TOKYO - Nearly 70 percent of Japanese oppose the restart of nuclear reactors halted for maintenance work, a poll showed on Monday, even though keeping them shut could mean power blackouts this summer and higher electricity bills.

Public fears about nuclear power have grown due to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi plant, where workers are struggling to control radiation leaks from meltdowns after reactor cooling systems were knocked out by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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The loss of generating capacity due to the closure of Fukushima and other plants, exacerbated by the refusal of local governments to sanction the restart of other reactors shut for routine maintenance, has raised the prospect of blackouts when power demand peaks in the summer.

Thirty-five of Japan's 54 commercial reactors are currently shut, including the six at Fukushima, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

Before the crisis, nuclear power provided about 30 percent of Japan's electricity, a figure that fell last month to about 20 percent.

The poll by the Nikkei business daily also showed that 47 percent want to cut the number of nuclear plants, up 5 percentage points from the previous poll in May.

Media reported on Monday that Chugoku Electric Power in western Japan is being refused permission by the governor of Yamaguchi prefecture to build a nuclear plant on landfill in a cove at Kaminoseki on the Seto Inland Sea.

Local residents oppose the plant, which the utility aimed to have in commercial operation by March 2018.


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