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In post-Fukushima policy test, Japan town rallies for nuclear re-start

Published on Apr 14, 2014 6:00 AM
An employee of Kyushu Electric Power Co walks in front of reactor buildings at the company's Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, on April 3, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

SATSUMASENDAI, Japan (REUTERS) - On the main road leading from the Sendai nuclear plant in southern Japan, a construction crew is laying down asphalt to widen the evacuation route in the event of a future disaster.

For many here, that is a hopeful sight. It means they are edging closer to re-starting two nuclear reactors that have been an economic engine for nearly three decades in a remote coastal town that has few other options.

Satsumasendai never felt the earthquake that triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster some 1,600km to the north in March 2011. But residents saw their friends lose jobs and felt their future was threatened when the Sendai nuclear plant run by Kyushu Electric Power was idled along with the rest of Japan's reactors for a more stringent round of safety checks after Fukushima.

"I know it was a horrible accident, but right now I'm more concerned about the economy and my job," said Mr Hiroya Komatsu, 28. "We saw it on TV, but it could very well have been the Philippines. It didn't feel like it was Japan."

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