Anti-nuclear protesters in Japan

Japanese oppose nuclear restarts

A poll by the Asahi newspaper in Japan has shown that a majority of Japanese oppose a restart of nuclear power plants currently shut for maintenance.

On Sunday the country marked a year since a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant 240km northeast of Tokyo, triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

According to the paper’s opinion poll conducted over the weekend, 57 per cent of people opposed the restart of nuclear reactors with 80 per cent not trusting the government's safety measures.

Japan’s government wants to restart some of the nuclear plants to avoid a potential power crunch come the peak summer season, with only two of 54 nuclear reactors generating electricity. The two last reactors are due to be shut for maintenance.

Trade Minister Yukio Edano said this month that no nuclear reactors in Japan may resume operations in time for summer, leaving the country facing an estimated 10 per cent power shortage during demand hours in summer.

The government has been conducting stress tests on the reactors to prove their safety to a cynical public. But many local governments hosting nuclear reactors have called for a more comprehensive set of tests taking into account damage caused at Fukushima.

After the Fukushima disaster Japan said it would reduce its reliance on nuclear - which before the crisis accounted for 30 per cent of electricity demand - in the medium to long term.

For the time being the dwindling share of nuclear power has forced Japan to import more oil and especially liquefied natural gas (LNG) to plug the gap.

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