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Court Allows Ageing Japanese Nuclear Plants to Continue Operations

A Japanese district court on Friday rejected petitions from residents and allowed five ageing nuclear reactors in central Japan to continue operations. 

The five reactors at the plants, operated by Kansai Electric Power Co in the Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, began commercial operations between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s. 

Local residents had asked the Fukui District Court to grant injunctions for the operations of one reactor at the Mihama nuclear plant and four reactors at the Takahama power plant, citing inadequate safety measures. 

The court, however, denied the injunctions, thus allowing the five reactors to continue operations. 

More than a decade after the Fukushima disaster, public opinion continues to be generally negative toward an en masse return to nuclear power, but Japanese authorities are keen to avoid energy crises and are betting on re-opening more nuclear power plants. 

Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japan closed all of its nuclear power plants for rigorous safety checks and inspections. The country has been returning reactors in service in recent years. 

Japan is bringing back nuclear power as a key energy source, looking to protect its energy security in the wake of the energy crisis that led to surging fossil fuel prices. The resource-poor country which needs to import about 90% of its energy requirements, made a U-turn in its nuclear energy policy at the end of 2022, as its energy import bill soared amid the energy crisis and surging costs to import LNG at record-high prices.

The Japanese government confirmed in December 2022 a new policy for nuclear energy, which the country had mostly abandoned since the Fukushima disaster. A panel of experts under the Japanese Ministry of Industry has also decided that Japan would allow the development of new nuclear reactors and allow available reactors to operate after the current limit of 60 years.   

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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