Fukui Gov Issei Nishikawa announced Tuesday that he has approved the restart of two nuclear reactors in the prefecture, despite a court injunction banning the operator from reactivating them due to safety concerns.
Nishikawa gave the go-ahead for Kansai Electric Power Co to restart the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at its Takahama plant on the Sea of Japan coast. The utility is looking to restart the No. 3 unit in late January and the No. 4 unit in late February.
The Fukui District Court will make a decision Thursday on an objection filed by Kansai Electric against the injunction, which was issued in April.
The governor’s announcement came after industry minister Motoo Hayashi and Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi met with him Sunday and Monday, respectively, to secure his consent for reactivation.
“I gave comprehensive consideration to the country’s and the operator’s policy and reached a conclusion,” Nishikawa said.
The Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to push ahead with the resumption of nuclear power generation following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Yagi said in a release that his company will do its best through safety management to prevent a scenario like Fukushima from happening again.
Japan ended a nearly two-year period without nuclear power when two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.‘s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture were brought back online earlier this year.
The governor of Ehime Prefecture gave approval for the reactivation of a reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.‘s Ikata plant in October.
Nishikawa also cited approval by the local prefectural assembly and the mayor of Takahama, as well as safety checks conducted by the prefecture, as key factors in his decision, on top of safety clearance by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
The government aims to supply at least 20 percent of the country’s electricity using nuclear power plants by 2030 despite strong public opposition to nuclear restarts.
Nishikawa met with Hayashi in Tokyo later in the day to tell the minister of his decision to approve the restart of the reactors.
Hayashi welcomed the approval at their meeting, which was open to the media at the beginning, and said he would continue to seek public support.
Nishikawa said earlier that supporting the local economy, creating new jobs and gaining public understanding would be necessary conditions for deciding in favor of restarting the reactors.
Reactivation should “stabilize employment and boost the economy” in the region, Yasutaka Tanaka, a 59-year-old local gas station owner, said.
Tadashi Matsuda, one of those who filed for the injunction, said the governor had acted prematurely as a court decision has yet to be issued.
But Nishikawa told reporters his consent has nothing to do with judicial developments because “the court will make a decision on the operator’s (objection)” and the prefecture is not involved in the case.