Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is
preparing to resume by next year the world's largest nuclear power plant,
damaged and closed for repairs after the earthquake that struck Japan in 2007.
TEPCO, which also owns the plant in Fukushima, is working in close
collaboration with the government: despite the political and popular protests,
the Japanese Prime Minister Noda has given the go-ahead to resume nuclear power
Naomi Hirose, the 59 year-old president of Tepco, said in an
interview that reactivating the Kashiwazaki Kariwa station "is part of our
plan to save the country from an energy crack. And we have no plan B". In
fact, the company, too, is in a disastrous situation: the earthquake and
tsunami that one year ago struck the area of Fukushima, causing the partial
meltdown of the plant, cost the company billions of yen.
But now the government is hoping to restart it, partly
because the prices of energy and of industrial production are bringing the
national economy to its knees. Tokyo has earmarked one trillion yen - nearly
12.6 billion dollars - to lower the cost of electricity and repair the
stations. But security tests imposed by the Ministry of Energy on the country's
50 nuclear plants are so rigid that only 2 have been granted permission to
reactivate. According to Tomoko Murakami, an analyst at the Institute of Energy
Economics in the capital, "thinking of reactivating the Kashiwazaki within
one year is just wishful thinking."
Before the crisis in Fukushima, 30% of energy for civilian use
in Japan was generated from nuclear power plants. The government programs
provide long-term reduction of dependence on nuclear energy, impractical at the
moment, in favor of renewable energies: Parliament yesterday approved an
appropriation of funds to support this energy field, but stressed that it will
take a "long time" before it can compete with nuclear energy.
The Japanese industrial sector has pressed since the early
days after the disaster to reactivate the plants and has obtained the return of
nuclear power thanks to objective data, including the serious risk of
blackouts, that indicates that the energy needs of the population cannot be met
without resorting to nuclear energy or greatly reducing the standard of living
of its inhabitants. One example out of many is wealthy Kansai (central Japan),
where the estimates highlight a 15% drop in production during the peak of
According to Professor Augustin Boey, a researcher in the
field of atomic energy at the University of Singapore, "renewable energy
and nuclear power are the key to the development of industrialized nations,
which must take into account an increasing demand for energy. With a serious
national and international control, aimed at ensuring security, this field
presents no cause for alarm. As instead certainly does continuing to rely on
energy derived from fossil fuels."