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Japan restarts nuclear reactor

TOKYO — Japan restarted its second nuclear reactor after the Fukushima crisis closed the nation’s atomic power plants, even as fresh concerns surfaced about the unit’s positioning near a faultline.

The Ohi No.4 reactor, 370 kilometres west of Tokyo was restarted at 9 p.m., according to the operator, Kansai Electric Power Co. It is expected to reach full criticality by 6 a.m. tomorrow.

The No.3 reactor at the station was reactivated earlier this month, to help avert possible power shortages more than a year after an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a series of meltdowns.

All 50 reactors operating in the country were subsequently taken off line for maintenance and tests.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said today it would order a reassessment of geological data after seismologists said there were potentially active faults under Ohi and the nearby Shika station, operated by Hokuriku Electric Power Co.

The assessments did not prevent the restart of Ohi reactor No. 4, Jiji news agency reported, citing vice-trade and industry minister Seishu Makino.

The restarts have prompted street protests, with more than 100,000 people pouring through central Tokyo on Monday to denounce atomic energy.

The future of nuclear power poses serious problems for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ahead of an election that could come later this year, threatening to further dent his declining support and fracture his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), already divided over a plan to double the sales tax. (Reuters)

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