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Energy costs keep Japan focus on nuclear

September 14, 2013 • Business


FILE – This Jan. 26, 2012 file photo shows the No. 4 reactor, left, and the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Ohi nuclear power plant in Ohi, Fukui prefecture, western Japan. The No. 4 reactor restarted in July 2012, along with the plant’s No. 3 reactor, which went offline for maintenance on Sept. 2, 2013. Japan will once again be without atomic energy as its only operating nuclear reactor, the No. 4 reactor at Ohi plant, goes offline Sunday, Sept. 15 for refueling and maintenance, and other plants remained closed for intensified safety checks following the 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-stricken plant in Fukushima. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan will once again be without atomic energy as its only operating nuclear reactor goes offline Sunday for refueling and maintenance, and other plants remained closed for intensified safety checks following the 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-stricken plant in Fukushima.

But despite signs the crisis in Fukushima is worsening, Japan’s commitment to restarting many of its 50 idled plants appears stronger than ever, more than a year after a previous government said it would begin to phase out nuclear power completely.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December, says nuclear power remains essential, even with a surge in generation capacity from solar, wind and other renewable sources, and that the world’s No. 3 economy cannot afford the mounting costs from importing gas and oil.

Four nuclear plant operators have applied to restart a dozen reactors under revised safety guidelines, though the pace will be relatively slow, with the first expected to come online early next year at the earliest. Inspections take about Login to read more

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