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Limiting life of nuclear plants to 40 years should be continued

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Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, new nuclear safety regulations were created to impose a 40-year limit on the operational lifespan of nuclear reactors in Japan.

The rule was designed to ensure decommissioning of aging reactors that are more vulnerable to accidents and make Japanese society less dependent on nuclear power.

But a provision that allows one extension of the legal lifespan by up to 20 years in exceptional cases, introduced in response to concerns about a power shortage, has been widely exploited to gain permission to extend operations years or even decades beyond the 40-year cap.

This troubling trend should not be ignored. The original principle should be maintained.

The municipal assembly of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on Nov. 25 approved the restarts of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s (KEPCO) Takahama nuclear plant, which first went into service in the 1970s.

The move came four years after the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), a government agency to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants, gave the green light to plans to extend operations of these aging reactors, which went offline in 2011 following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

While the consent of the Takahama mayor, the Fukui........

© The Asahi Shimbun

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