The governor of Japan’s Saga Prefecture, Yoshinori Yamaguchi, on 24 April consented to the restart of units 3 and 4 at Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Genkai NPP, which could see them being put back on line this summer. "After deeply thinking it over, as it was a grave decision to make, I have reached the conclusion that (the restart) is inevitable under the present circumstances," he told a press conference. He also said dependence on nuclear power "cannot be helped to some extent" from the standpoint of securing energy supply.
The reactors in January passed the more stringent safety requirements that were introduced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. The prefectural government is now consulting with the heads of municipalities and local residents over whether to approve the restart. The town of Genkai, which hosts the power station, gave its consent last month, and on 13 April, the prefectural assembly adopted a resolution approving the reactors' restart. However, of the eight municipalities within a 30-kilometre radius of the seaside plant, the city of Imari in Saga, and the cities of Iki, Matsuura and Hirado in neighbouring Nagasaki Prefecture have opposed the restart.
All four reactors at the Genkai plant had stopped operating by December 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima accident. Kyushu Electric has decided to decommission the ageing unit 1 reactor. In 2009, unit 3 began generating power using mox fuel, and in June 2016, the Fukuoka High Court upheld a ruling that the utility can continue with its plan to use mox in the reactor.
Currently, only three of Japan’s 45 commercial reactors are in operation – units 1 and 2 at Kyushu Electric's Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and unit 3 at Shikoku Electric Power Co's Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.