Judge Rules Against Restarting 2 Nuclear Reactors in Japan

Judge Rules Against Restarting 2 Nuclear Reactors in Japan

The Takahama nuclear power station in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, in 2013.

    TOKYO — The 13 commercial nuclear reactors clustered along the short, rugged coastline of Fukui Prefecture in Japan have earned the area a reputation as a political stronghold for the atomic power industry.

    Nuclear-friendly politicians dominate most of Fukui’s government offices, and some of the area’s reactors continued to operate for a time after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant four years ago, even as others elsewhere shut down because of safety concerns. The region is nicknamed Genpatsu Ginza, or Nuclear Alley.

    Currently, none of the 48 usable reactors in Japan are producing power. Japan’s carbon emissions have risen as a result, and business groups say delays in returning some plants to service are hurting the economy.

    The price of electricity has increased by 20 percent or more, reflecting the cost of importing more oil and natural gas. That translates to the equivalent of several tens of billions of dollars a year in added expenses for households and companies.

    Now, a local judge has made Fukui an unexpected focus of antinuclear activism and turned the prefecture into a battleground for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which is seeking to rebuild the nuclear industry and reverse the economic impact of the reactor shutdowns.

    On Tuesday, the judge, Hideaki Higuchi, issued an injunction forbidding the restart of two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui. The plant’s owner, Kansai Electric Power Company, had intended them to be among the first in the country to be returned to service after the introduction of post-Fukushima safety standards two years ago.