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Renewed worries in Japan about restarting nuclear plants, after 7-4 earthquake near Fukushima

An earthquake has hit Japan just when the country is debating whether to
restart nuclear power plants. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida believes it is
crucial to resume operations. Fresh concerns over nuclear safety will
weaken his case and weigh down utilities stocks.

Four people died on Wednesday night after a magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck northern Japan near
the Fukushima prefecture. It is in this region that a 9.0-magnitude
earthquake and tsunami unleashed a nuclear crisis 11 years ago.

Local utilities are most likely to sustain long-term damage. Shares of Tepco, the
electric utility that operated the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
power plant, were unmoved by the most recent earthquake. They have been
strengthening this year, ending a two-year long losing streak of more than
60 per cent

Kishida remains intent on restarting nuclear plants. He
responded to earlier safety concerns triggered by Russian attacks on
Ukrainian nuclear facilities with plans for a police unit to protect
Japan’s nuclear plants. But opposition from locals is strong, show
opinion polls. That is understandable given the dire consequences of the
Fukushima meltdown. More than 1mn tonnes of contaminated water is planned
to be released into the Pacific Ocean. The clean-up and damages bill is
more than ¥22tn ($185bn).

 FT 17th March 2022


March 19, 2022 - Posted by | Japan, safety

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