Fifteen months after 19,000 people were killed and 347,000 permanently displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility, Yoshihiko Noda, the Prime Minister, ordered the restart of two nuclear reactors in the town of Oi, in western Japan . It was, he said, an attempt to protect the country’s fragile economy from the threat of power cuts. The closure of all 50 of Japan’s nuclear power plants after the disaster last year left energy companies scrambling for ways to keep the air-conditioning running in Tokyo, where the mercury regularly passes 30C (86F] in summer, and other big cities. Yet, even before Mr. Noda’s announcement, thousands of anti-nuclear protesters had gathered outside his official residence in Tokyo. A petition bearing 6.5 million signatures opposing the use of nuclear reactors was delivered to the Prime Minister’s office by Kenzaburo Oe, the Nobel Prize-winning writer.
Despite Mr. Noda’s insistence on maintaining existing levels of electricity consumption, more than three-quarters of respondents to a newspaper survey in April said that they were “prepared to accept power savings and temporary planned black-outs”. In other words, most Japanese would prefer to suffer a decline in living standards than risk a return to nuclear. – The Times 18th June, 2012.