[Marxism] Japan shuts down its next-to-last nuclear reactor

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Mon Mar 26 18:24:14 MDT 2012

Japan shuts down its next-to-last nuclear reactor
By Eric Talmadge Associated Press / March 26, 2012

TOKYO---Another Japanese nuclear reactor was taken off line for 
maintenance on Monday, leaving the country with only one of its 54 
reactors operational following last year's devastating earthquake and 

The last reactor is expected to be shut down by early May, raising the 
possibility of power shortages across the nation as demand increases in 
the hot summer months.

The No. 6 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex was taken off line 
early Monday by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. The utility also runs the 
plant in Fukushima, northeast of Tokyo, that suffered meltdowns, 
explosions and radiation leaks after the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Japanese reactors are taken off line every 13 months for regular checks. 
With concerns over nuclear safety high following the Fukushima crisis, 
none of the reactors that have been shut down for checks, and none that 
were already off line at the time of the disaster, have been allowed to 

The last reactor, on the northern island of Hokkaido, will be shut down 
in May. The timing for when any reactors will be restarted remains unclear.

Before the crisis, Japan depended on nuclear power for one-third of its 
electricity. Japan's government wants to restart reactors as soon as 
"stress tests" prove they are safe, but faces strong public opposition. 
Local leaders, fearing a political backlash, are reluctant to give their 

Authorities have required all reactors to undergo the stress tests and 
make necessary modifications to improve safety. The stress tests, 
similar to those used in France and elsewhere in Europe, are designed to 
assess how well the plants can withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, 
loss of power and other crises.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to reduce Japan's reliance on 
nuclear power over time and plans to lay out a new energy policy by the 

In the meantime, Japan has temporarily turned to oil and coal generation 
plants to make up for the shortfall, and businesses have been required 
to reduce electricity use to help with conservation efforts.

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