TOKYO - Japan's government is racing to get two nuclear reactors, idled after the Fukushima crisis, running again by next month out of what experts say is fear that a total shutdown would make it hard to convince a wary public that atomic power is vital.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three cabinet ministers are to meet on Thursday to discuss the possible restarts of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi plant in Fukui, western Japan - a region dubbed the "nuclear arcade" for the string of atomic plants that dot its coast.
Trade minister Yukio Edano, who holds the energy portfolio, could travel to Fukui as early as Sunday to seek local approval for the restarts, Japanese media said. If approved, the restarts would be the first since a huge earthquake and tsunami triggered the radiation crisis at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima plant a year ago, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
Concern about a power crunch when electricity demand peaks in the summer has been set against public fears about safety since Fukushima, the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years.