Japan’s push to restart nuclear plants sparks public anger via Reuters

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Risa Maeda

TOKYO | Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:36am EST

(Reuters) – Japan’s push to restart nuclear reactors shut for maintenance by proving their safety through stress tests and plans to let them operate for as long as 60 years have sparked an angry response from the public, wary of atomic power in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

In a rare protest, a group of citizen observers delayed for hours a hearing at the trade ministry on Wednesday, at which the nuclear watchdog presented to experts its first completed review of stress test results for two reactors from Fukui prefecture’s Ohi nuclear power plant.

The watchdog, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said in a draft report the tests showed the reactors were capable of withstanding a severe shock similar to the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima plant. But the report’s review by a panel of experts is set to continue after observers demanded access to the deliberations and questioned the expert panel’s impartiality.

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