Japan is considering restarting nuclear power plants shut down after the 2011 Fukushima disaster as temperatures soar

As temperatures soared across Japan and the government pleaded with the public and businesses to limit their energy consumption, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said nuclear power plants that had not been used since the 2011 Fukushima disaster would be reactivated.

Speaking at the GROUP of Seven summit on Tuesday, Mr. Kishida said the four nuclear reactors that have been allowed to resume operations would be at full capacity to help ease the energy crisis.

But he also hinted that more nuclear plants would come back online to meet soaring energy demand, which would only increase further as the summer dragged on.

Before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 54 reactors were operating across Japan, providing 30 percent of the country's electricity needs. After the disaster, the government shut down all nuclear power plants, and in the years since, the country has been forced to resume importing oil, coal and natural gas to meet its energy needs.

Japan is considering restarting nuclear power plants shut down after the 2011 Fukushima disaster as temperatures soar

Kishida said his government "will work steadily to accelerate the review" of new safety measures at the country's nuclear plants, with the aim of bringing more reactors into operation as soon as possible.

That's because meteorologists confirmed that this month was the warmest June in Tokyo since records were first compiled in 1875. Tokyo has seen temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius every day since Saturday. The thermometer in Isisaki, northwest of the capital, registered 40.2 degrees on Saturday -- the hottest June temperature ever recorded in Japan.

Unusual weather conditions in Japan and the western Pacific mean temperatures will remain unusually high for at least the next two weeks, according to experts.

Inevitably, higher temperatures have translated into higher demand for energy, mainly air conditioning.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Monday's peak power demand was 52,700 megawatts -- easily surpassing the peak of 47,300 megawatts recorded in the summer of 2018 and equivalent to the power produced by Japan's five nuclear reactors.

Given the strain on the grid, the government has called on households and businesses in And around Tokyo to limit energy consumption, urging users to turn off all unwanted appliances, especially during the peak hours between 3pm and 6pm, and to use air conditioners "appropriately".

But Kishida on Tuesday stressed the need to balance conservation with people's well-being. Heat stroke is a problem. I don't want people to take saving energy too far, they should use air conditioning wisely to overcome this problem.

In the month ending Tuesday, 4,551 people were admitted to the hospital with heatstroke -- a record number for June, the Disaster Management Agency said. Most were 65 years old or older, and four subsequently died, it said.

Trade Minister Koichi Haguida told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that it was "important" to bring more nuclear reactors back online to ensure the country's energy needs were met.

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