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Japan Restarts Nuclear Power After Two-Year Shutdown

BN-JU488_0811se_M_20150810223804Protesters camp near Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear power station. issei kato/Reuters      

Sendai power plant expected to generate electricity by the end of the week

TOKYO—Japan on Tuesday restarted one of its nuclear reactors for the first time since new safety requirements were introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, ending a nearly two-year period when all the nation’s reactors had been offline.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. began removing control rods from the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant in southern Japan at 10:30 a.m. local time. The company said the reactor should begin generating electricity by the end of the week and resume commercial operation by early September following inspections. The plant’s second reactor is scheduled to be brought back online later this year.

Japan has 43 operable nuclear reactors. All had been shut since September 2013 and efforts to restart some of them have faced repeated delays as their operators struggled to comply with stricter regulations introduced after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant. So far, only five have passed the main layer of scrutiny by nuclear regulators.

Before the Fukushima accident, in which three reactors suffered meltdowns, nuclear power accounted for around 30% of Japan’s electricity. Since then, however, the country has depended on coal, liquefied natural gas and oil for nearly 90% of its power needs.

Japan on Tuesday fired up a nuclear reactor for the first time since safety rules were tightened after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Here are five things to know about Japan’s reactors and nuclear policy. Photo: AP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government have said they want the reactors back online to cut the nation’s dependence on imported energy. In July, the industry ministry approved a new target that calls for nuclear to account for as much as 22% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. Clean-energy sources will account for up to 24%, according to the program.

Mr. Abe said Monday that the new safety standards were “at the highest level in world.”

BN-JU491_0811se_M_20150810223807Protesters stage a rally near the gate of the Sendai Nuclear Power Station in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan on Tuesday. Kyushu Electric Power Co. has restarted a reactor at the power station, the first to begin operating under …


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