The Straits Times
Published on Jan 24, 2013

Japan faces nuclear shutdown for second time since Fukushima


TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan may face a total nuclear shutdown in the summer for the second time since the March 2011 Fukushima disaster as the country's two operating reactors close for maintenance and tough new safety checks keep the rest of the fleet offline.

That could force Japan to import even more fossil fuels for power generation, adding to an onerous energy bill that helped push the country into a record trade deficit in 2012.

"It is unlikely that any of the idled reactors will re-start prior to September due to ongoing investigations of seismic issues at certain plants and due to the fact that safety standards have still not been finalised by the Nuclear Regulation Authority," said Mr Tom O'Sullivan, a Tokyo-based energy consultant.

"Local approvals will also be necessary for restarts, adding a further layer of complication," he said.