Amid protests, Japan restarted one of its reactors late Sunday night—the first time the country has reverted back to nuclear power since the Fukushima nuclear disaster 15 months ago. Since last May, the last of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were taken offline for scheduled maintenance.
Saturday night, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the gates of the Ohi Power Plant in an attempt to prevent it from going back online. In Tokyo, thousands more gathered outside the Prime Minister's residence Friday night.
Despite public outcry, PM Noda has aggressively pushed to restart idle reactors, aware of current power shortage crippling the country. Although he favors reducing Japan's reliance on nuclear power, he says eliminating them altogether would severely damage the economy. And he's right.
To make up for the shortfall in energy, utilities have ramped up oil and gas imports, which has also given the country its biggest annual trade deficit in history—costing over $100 million a day. Abandoning nuclear power altogether is not sustainable.
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Still, critics fear Japan is moving too quickly, citing that the government failed to take into account active fault lines near the Ohi reactors, revealed by two prominent seismologists earlier this week.
Under Kansai Electric Power Company, KEPCO, the reactor is expected to begin transmitting power by Wednesday. Serving Japan's second biggest urban region, KEPCO plans on reactivating its No. 4 reactor on July 14.