By Kentaro Hamada
NIIGATA, Japan Jan 5 The governor of Japan's
Niigata prefecture reiterated his opposition to the restart of
Tokyo Electric Power's (Tepco) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
nuclear plant, adding it may take a few years to review the
pre-conditions for restart.
During a meeting on Thursday with Tepco Chairman Fumio Sudo
and President Naomi Hirose, Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was
elected in October on his anti-nuclear platform, repeated his
pledge to keep the plant shut unless a fuller explanation of the
2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster was provided.
He also said that evacuation plans for people in Niigata in
case of a nuclear accident and the health impacts that the
Fukushima accident have had would need to be reviewed before
discussing the nuclear plant's restart.
The restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the world's
largest, is key to helping Tepco rebound from the aftermath of
the 2011 disaster at its Fukushima-Daiichi plant.
The Japanese government last month nearly doubled its
projections for costs related to the disaster to 21.5 trillion
yen ($185 billion), increasing the pressure on Tepco to step up
reform and improve its performance.
Many of Japan's reactors are still going through a
relicensing process by a new regulator set up after the
Fukushima disaster, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986.
Shutting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant for additional years
would mean that the company would have to continue relying
heavily on fossil fuel-fired power generation such as natural
Governors do not have the legal authority to prevent
restarts but their agreement is usually required before a plant
can resume operations.
Three reactors at Tepco's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant
melted down after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck Japan in March
2011, triggering a tsunami that devastated a swathe of Japan's
northeastern coastline and killed more than 15,000 people.
($1 = 116.3600 yen)
(Reporting by Kentaro Hamada; additional reporting by Osamu
Tsukimori and Chris Gallagher in TOKYO; Editing by Michael Perry
and Christian Schmollinger)