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April 13, 2012

Japan government and agencies declare two reactors safe for restart

Two idled Japanese nuclear reactors have been declared safe and will need to be restarted to avoid a summer power crunch in western Japan, the trade minister said on Friday, a step towards the first restart in Japan since last year's Fukushima crisis.

Trade Minister Yukio Edano also said that he will visit Fukui prefecture, host to the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear power plant, on Saturday to meet with the governor and Ohi town mayor and to convince them of the necessity for the restarts.

Edano set no deadline for the reactor restarts, but implied that he hopes to obtain public backing by July, when the hottest season starts.

Fukui prefecture, host to 13 reactors, cannot legally block restarts, but Tokyo has made clear it is reluctant to override wary public opinion.

All but one of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are now off line, most of them for regular maintenance checks, as public concerns over nuclear safety have kept them from restarting. The last reactor will shut down on May 5.

Edano, who holds the energy portfolio, said that Kansai Electric's power supply this summer may fall by up to 20 percent short of peak-hour demand and that a sudden power outage would have a wide impact.





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