By Mari Yamaguchi, AP
TOKYO–Nuclear power returned to Japan’s energy mix for the first time in two months Thursday, hours before a parliamentary investigative commission blamed the government’s cozy relations with the industry for the meltdowns that prompted the mass shutdown of the nation’s reactors.
Though the report echoes other investigations into last year’s disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, it could fuel complaints that Japan is trying to restart nuclear reactors without doing enough to avoid a repeat. Thursday’s resumption of operations at a reactor in Ohi, in western Japan, already had been hotly contested.
Government officials and the utility that runs the Ohi plant announced last month that the No. 3 reactor had passed stringent safety checks and needed to be brought back online to ward off blackouts as Japan enters its high-demand summer months. The government hopes to see the restart of more of Japan’s 50 working reactors as soon as possible.
“We have finally taken this first step,” said Hideki Toyomatsu, vice president of Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates the plant and hopes to restart another reactor there in the few weeks. “But it is just a first step.”