(TOKYO) — All of Japan’s nuclear power plants remain offline, but that could change soon. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made his case in a live primetime address, telling the public Japan could not operate without nuclear power.
One-third of Japan’s power used to come from nuclear. But that changed last March, after a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and caused three reactor meltdowns. Radioactive material spewed into the air, forcing more than 80,000 people from their homes.
All 54 of Japan’s reactors have been taken offline for safety checks since, but Noda wants to restart two of them. The reactors at the Oi power plants have undergone safety tests implemented after the Fukushima disaster. Noda says they’re safe enough to withstand another powerful earthquake and tsunami, but opponents say there is no guarantee.
The lobbying comes as Japan faces yet another summer with a limited power supply. A power shortage last summer forced offices to dial up their thermostats and cut their energy usage by 15 percent.
Noda says Japan can’t continue to rely on oil imports to keep the power on this summer. He’s already received the support of local leaders to restart those two reactors in western Japan. Now he needs the public’s approval.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
James Griffiths and Shen Lu
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN