The Genkai Nuclear Power Plant is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Genkai, Saga Prefecture
SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A mayor in southwestern Japan approved a plan Tuesday to restart two nuclear reactors in his town, a step toward the resumption of a third atomic power plant in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
“While taking the assembly’s approval seriously, I decided to accept the government’s policy,” Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai in Saga Prefecture, told a press conference.
Now the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. depends on consent by seven other municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant amid lingering safety concerns about nuclear power plants.
The Japanese government is pushing for reactors to be restarted as nuclear power is regarded as a key energy source even after the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan.
The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai plant passed in January tougher safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A majority of the town assembly members voted in favor of the restart on Feb. 24.
Kishimoto told Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi and Kyushu Electric Power President Michiaki Uriu of his approval Tuesday by phone.
The Saga governor will make a judgment on the matter after hearing from all mayors in the prefecture at a meeting March 18.
All four reactors at the Genkai plant had halted operations by December 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. Kyushu Electric decided to decommission the aging No. 1 reactor.
Of Japan’s 45 commercial reactors nationwide as of Tuesday, only three are now operating — the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.