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Japan to restart nuclear reactors as faith groups continue opposition

June 28, 2012

TOKYO

The Japanese government has approved the restart of two nuclear power plant reactors in the central Fukui prefecture (state) as faith groups and individuals continue to oppose the move, citing the quake-triggered Fukushima nuclear crisis.

After a meeting with three other ministers on June 16, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the government’s final decision to restart the Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Station, based on approval by Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa.

The Kansai Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, announced that it would start preparations for restarting Unit 3 in early July and Unit 4 in mid- or late July. Noda has said the nation’s electrical grid needs the additional power for the peak summer electricity season and the Japanese economy will be damaged if the plants remain shut.

In a June 15 statement, the Japan Baptist Convention, the country’s second-largest Protestant church, protested Noda, asking him to withdraw his decision. It also urged Nishikawa not to agree to the resumption of the reactors and said that they demand that no nuclear power plant be restarted, citing a biblical verse “to choose life” in the book of Deuteronomy.

On June 9, the Christian Network for a Nuclear-Free Earth (CNFE) organized a meeting with civic groups in the Japanese northern city of Hakodate where participants expressed their “strong protest” against the restate.

Jonathan Frerichs, program executive of peace building and disarmament of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who attended the meeting, said that people would “prevail against nuclear power in Northeast Asia in the end.”

“Nuclear power, on balance, is against people,” said Frerichs at the meeting, which was part of a five-day tour from June 5 to nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities of used nuclear fuels in northern Japan.

Japan has 50 nuclear power plants that account for about 30 percent of its electrical generation, but since the damage at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, they have been subject to safety reviews.

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