Nuclear Restart

News & Views - June 30th, 2012
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Whenever a protest is organised there seems to be a disparity between the reported number of attendees from different sources.

That was the case again yesterday, when some thousands of people gathered around Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s residence in the Nagatacho district of Tokyo, helicopters swooped around Tokyo as they protested the restart of nuclear reactors.

AFP reports: “Organisers quoted in local media estimated turnout exceeded 100,000 people, over double the turnout they estimated at a similar protest last week. Lawmaker Yoshisu Arita, however, placed the figure at closer to 20,000 on Twitter.” Reuters put the number at around 15,000.

Whether there were “100,000” or “20,000”, it is clear that the opening of the reactors at Oi, in western Japan, which are operated by Kansai Electrical (scheduled for July 1), will not go down well with the masses.

The shutdown of the third reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido at the start of May, had left Japan with no nuclear power for the first time since 1970 but Noda says the restart is vital for the economy to get back on track.

With summer approaching, there are concerns that the grid will not be able to cope with increased demand for power. Energy consumption rockets in the heat, as offices and homes switch on the much-needed air conditioners, and some reports have suggested that there may be a shortage of around 20% this year.

Setsuden, or electricity conservation, will again be a watchword for companies hoping to avoid power outages and campaigns such as the government’s ‘Cool Biz’ will be more important than ever.