In an interview with Tokyo Shimbun and other media on Feb. 8, Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama indicated that verification by a prefectural technical committee of the cause of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident would be “completed in three or four years.” At the same time, he in effect denied the possibility of an early restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant (Kariwa Village, Kashiwazaki City), emphasizing that the restart should take place after the findings of the committee are available.
There is no legal provision requiring local consent to restart a nuclear power plant. The government’s Strategic Energy Plan, however, asks for the understanding of the relevant local government to be obtained, and the local governor’s opinion thus has an impact.
Governor Yoneyama indicated the intent to revise the “Agreement on resident safety securement regarding the TEPCO Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant” formed between TEPCO and the prefecture, Kashiwazaki City, and Kariwa Village. “Views on safety have changed dramatically since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident,” he said.
Regarding a partnership with Kagoshima Prefecture Governor Satoshi Mitazono, who was elected in July 2016 on a no-nuclear platform, the Niigata governor said, “If Mitazono says he wants to work together, I will work with him. It is up to him.”
In the Niigata gubernatorial race in October 2016, the key issue was the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant. Governor Yoneyama ran for office on a no-nuclear platform with the backing of the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party, and the Social Democratic Party. This is his first term. Operation of all seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant has been suspended since March 2012.