Japan to Restart Nuclear Reactor

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Japan To Restart Nuclear Reactor

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan on Friday approved the reopening of an accident-tainted nuclear reactor and defended its nuclear policy as vital for a resource-poor nation.

Japan's Atomic Energy Commission decided to restart Japan's experimental Monju fast-breeder reactor as soon as possible. The reactor was shut down in December 1995 following an accident in which several tons of sodium leaked from its cooling system.

The plan reaffirmed Tokyo's commitment to nuclear power, and it comes with public trust in the industry shaken by a series of mishaps and cover-ups including an accident last September at a reprocessing plant northwest of Tokyo that killed two people and exposed hundreds to radiation.

Friday's plan didn't specify when the reactor, about 220 miles west of Tokyo will be back in operation.

Japan relies almost entirely on imports for oil and other natural resources. The government is betting heavily on nuclear power to achieve a measure of long-term energy self-sufficiency.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), November 24, 2000

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