May 22 - Japan's government seeks to boost economy by restarting nuclear facilities as power plants scamble to improve safety measures. Jessica Gray reports.
This is Japan's Hamaoka nuclear power plant. Like the majority of the country's nuclear facilities, it remains offline following the meltdown at the Fukushima plant in March 2011. Critics say it should stay that way since the facility is in the middle of a seismic danger-zone, just 200 kilometers from Tokyo. And experts say there is an 87% chance a massive quake will hit the region in the next three decades. But politicians are pushing to reopen the power generating plants in hopes of economic growth. Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said ditching nuclear power altogether would be irresponsible. The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority is also expected to draw up new safety standards that could pave the way for plants to reopen. For its part, the nuclear plant's operator is beefing up the facility's tsunami protections, including a defense wall and reactor flood doors at a cost of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. Although there is still public wariness over nuclear power, the number of nuclear protesters has fallen sharply, as has public dissent over the issue.