Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear plant on Tuesday. The restart marks Japan's return to nuclear energy, breaking a four-and-half-year nuclear power impasse since the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan following the earthquake and tsunami.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority affirmed the safety of the reactor and another one at the Sendai plant in September under stricter safety rules imposed after the accident, the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.
The plans call for the second reactor to be restarted in October. The Sendai No. 1 reactor is scheduled to start generating power on Friday and reach full capacity next month. All of Japan's nearly 50 workable reactors have been offline for repairs or safety checks. Abe's government wants as many of them as possible to be put online to sustain the nation's economy, which now relies on imported energy.
Residents near the Sendai plant are also wary of the restarts, citing potential dangers from active volcanos in the region.
Protests have been taking place outside the Sendai plant and at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's residence in Tokyo against the restarting of nuclear power plant.