Japan to restart nuclear plants

A general view of Mihama nuclear power station No 1 reactor (R), No 2 reactor (C) and No 3 reactor (L) which is run by Kansai Electric Power Co, on March 8, 2012 in Mihama, Japan.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe said today that he wants to bring some of the country's nuclear plants back online. That reverses a decision to phase out nuclear energy following the Fukushima disaster.

In his speech to parliament, Abe said Japan cited the need for energy security. The country, which does not have its own energy resources, must import large volumes of natural gas, oil and other fossil fuels from around the world in the absence of nuclear program.

Despite Mr. Abe's intentions, heavy opposition and tougher regulations set to come into effect this summer will make it harder for idled plants to re-open. Not to mention the costs -- some experts estimate it may cost $11 billion to get the plants back online.

About the author

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes is a reporter with the BBC based in Japan.

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