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Japan switches off last nuclear reactor via Aljazeera America

The move leaves Japan reliant on pricey fossil fuels to fill the gap left by the shutdown of all its atomic plants

Japan has started the process of switching off its last working nuclear reactor for a scheduled inspection with no restart date in sight due to public hostility towards atomic power.

The move Sunday leaves the world’s third largest economy without atomic energy for the second time since the Fukushima crisis erupted in March 2011.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly supported the use of nuclear energy, but the public has remained largely opposed to it for fears of possible serious accidents following the world’s worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Kansai Electric Power will gradually take offline the No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture in western Japan.

The work began Sunday evening, with the reactor expected to stop power generation after several hours before coming to a complete stop Monday, according to the utility.

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Last month, Japanese officials announced that the contamination was worse than previously thought.

An estimated 300 tons of contaminated water has been leaking into the Pacific ocean every day, Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Aug. 7.

No one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the meltdowns at Fukushima, but tens of thousands of people were evacuated and many remain so, with some areas expected to be uninhabitable for decades.

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