For power and at the polls. Bloomberg:
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ended Japan’s month-long freeze on nuclear power yesterday, approving a reactor restart that may undermine his political support.
Two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503)’s Ohi nuclear plant can be operated safely, Noda declared after meeting with three Cabinet ministers who share approval authority. The utility, which serves the $1 trillion economy of Japan’s second- biggest urban region, said it would immediately begin work to start one reactor.
Japan is reopening nuclear plants that provided about 30 percent of its energy before being idled after the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima station. The decision followed by one day a deal with opposition parties to abandon some campaign pledges in return for agreement to double the nation’s consumption tax. Majorities in public opinion polls oppose both the restarts and the tax increase.
Noda “could end up like all his predecessors in the dustbin of history very quickly,” said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Tokyo campus. “The dustbin is waiting for him.”
Seventy-one percent of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper poll published on June 4 objected to a speedy restart of the reactors in Ohi. In a separate poll released June 5 by the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Japanese said the country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy and 52 percent feared they or their families may have been exposed to radiation.