Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Japanese government has cleared the way for a nuclear plant to resume production of electricity in Kagoshima Prefecture.
At present, all of Japan's 48 nuclear power plants are shut down, but Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority ruled that two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. met safety requirements imposed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. However, operations will not resume until 1 December 2014.
According to national media, this is a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Conservative government. The latter has always insisted on the need for nuclear power to sustain Japanese industrial production and keep energy costs down.
After the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, the government expressed its condolences and shut down all of Japan's nuclear plants. Eventually, it decided to reactivate them.
By contrast, the Catholic Church in Japan has always opposed this form of energy. In its first statement on the matter about ten years ago, it called on the government to rethink the country's nuclear policies.
Right after the Fukushima disaster, the bishops urged the government to shut down "now and forever" all of the country's nuclear power plants.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Mario Bianchin, regional superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Japan, said, "The Church in Japan has always been opposed to nuclear power. The bishops have spoken out on several occasions."
"For the population in general," he noted, "I think there is some sort of 'allergy' against nuclear power, but no real organised opposition."
"The Japanese are fatalists," the PIME missionary said. "They think that if something has to be done, it must be done. According to a local expression, 'There is no way out', and this is applied to the issue."
However, the dreaded energy crunch the government Abe warned against following the plants closure "has not occurred," Fr Bianchin said.
"There are new taxes, but they are about commerce, not energy. I believe that if they really wanted to, the Japanese could do without nuclear power."