Shimane governor gives nod to restart of nuclear reactor

The governor of a prefecture in western Japan has made clear his intention to agree to the restart of a reactor at a nuclear power plant in the prefectural capital.

Shimane Governor Maruyama Tatsuya told a prefectural assembly meeting on Thursday that he would give the nod to bringing back online the No.2 reactor at the Shimane plant in Matsue City.

Maruyama said he thinks it will be inevitable under the current circumstances. He said electric power supply needs to be maintained for industry and people's lives. He said nuclear power currently has a certain role to play.

Last year, the reactor cleared the new government regulations for nuclear plants that were introduced after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident.

In February, the Matsue mayor agreed to the restart of the reactor based on a safety agreement with the plant's operator, Chugoku Electric Power.

With the approval of the local governments that host the plant, the utility now plans to complete additional safety work by the end of next March before resuming operations. The plant's No.1 reactor is being decommissioned.

The Shimane plant is the country's only nuclear power station located in a prefectural capital. Over 450,000 people live within a 30-kilometer radius from the plant, the third largest number for a nuclear plant in Japan.

The prefecture has drawn up an evacuation plan in the event of a serious accident. It requires some of the residents to evacuate to neighboring prefectures such as Hiroshima and Okayama.

Prefectural officials say they will call on Chugoku Electric to take thorough safety measures.

They also plan to ask the central government to extend support for evacuation should a serious accident occur, and to get ready for a situation in which an armed attack on the plant could be expected.