For the first time since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Japan has restarted a nuclear reactor on its soil. The Kyushu Electric Power company today reactivated the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture on Kyushu Island.
Japan shut down all its nuclear power plants four year ago following an earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant. Since that time, the country has imported most of its energy from natural gas- and coal-fired facilities, but has a goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity using nuclear power plants by 2030. However, many Japanese citizens continue to oppose the return to nuclear generation, and have successfully petitioned to block the restart of nuclear reactors before.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has advocated for a return to nuclear power generation, in the hopes that it would aid economic recovery and lower utility bills in the country. Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan generated about 30 percent of its electricity using nuclear resources. Most of the country’s 48 nuclear power plants have applied to resume operations following the adoption of more rigorous safety inspections. Kyushu’s Sendai plant hopes to restart its second nuclear reactor in October.