On July 16, 2014, Japanese antinuclear groups were quick to announce their opposition to the draft approval by the country’s fledgling Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for the restart of two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power station in Kagoshima Prefecture. All of Japan’s 48 nuclear power reactors remain closed still pending final approval by both national and local government authorities. The majority of the Japanese public remain solidly opposed to restarting any of the nation’s inherently dangerous nukes in the geologically active country. Among the contentions presented in the joint statement, the antinuclear groups point out that the NRA draft approval, 1) ignores its own Volcano Effects Assessment for Sendai which is located near the active Sakurajima volcano as well as five gigantic volcanic caldera depressions; 2) ignores the lessons learned from Fukushima’s on-going failure to contain uncontrolled releases of highly radioactive water as could also occur at Sendai following an accident, and; 3) diminishes emergency evacuation planning for the general population living near the reactors including special needs populations such as hospitals and nursing homes.
In May 2014, three judges with the Fukui District Court in Fukui Prefecture, Japan ruled in favor of 166 Japanese plaintiffs who had brought a suit to halt the restart of Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi nuclear power station Units 3 and 4 which are sited atop earthquake faults. Greenpeace and Green Action Japan recently provided an English translation of the court ruling. The decision blunted the Abe government and nuclear industry’s efforts to restart the first two of Japan’s remaining 48 reactor units shut down in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.
The Fukui court ruling places the personal rights and safety of the Japanese people above the nuclear industry's commercial claims and economic interests of Japan. The ruling tackled one of the Abe government and industry’s key arguments for nuclear restart stating, “it is the view of this Court that even if a large trade deficit occurred as a result of stopping the operation of this nuclear power plant, this should not be considered an outflow or loss of national wealth. This Court considers national wealth to be the rich land and the people's livelihoods that have taken root there, and that being unable to recover these is the true loss of national wealth."
The Washington Post reports that Japanese regulators picked Sendai because it is the most likely nuclear power plant in Japan to receive the required approval from the local Prefecture government.