Japanese politicians propose officially designating March 11 as Great East Japan Disaster Day

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RocketNews 24:

This coming spring will mark four years since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. While that’s not nearly long enough for the those who experienced the tragedy first-hand to forget about the destruction, sadness, and fear, some politicians are concerned that in time memories will fade, which is why a bill is being introduced in the Japanese Diet to establish March 11 as an official day of remembrance of the disaster.

The Liberal Democratic Party has announced its intention to recommend that March 11 be officially known as Great East Japan Disaster Day. The initiative is being spearheaded by LDP representatives from Tohoku, Japan’s northeastern region which suffered the heaviest damage from the earthquake and tsunami. In particular, Shinichi Suzuki and Takumi Nemoto, representatives from Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures, respectively, are seen as champions of the cause.

While the bill will not seek to establish March 11 as a national holiday, the lawmakers nevertheless feel the designation is important to raise awareness about the necessity of disaster preparedness, prevent the events from fading from public consciousness, and to make sure future generations understand what the country experienced.

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The Liberal Democratic Party had begun work on presenting the proposal back in fall this year, but its progress was derailed by the dissolution of the Diet and subsequent snap elections. Backers now plan to formally introduce the bill at the next regular session of the Diet, to be held in January, and are currently reaching out to representatives from other parties in order to complete the process by March 11 of 2015.

First nuclear power plant set to restart in Japan after 2011 meltdown

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RocketNews 24:

 

Against much public backlash, two reactors at a nuclear power plant in Sendai are scheduled to be restarted. These will be the first to restart operations after all the country’s nuclear plants were shut down indefinitely following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.

The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power is set to be the first of Japan’s inactive nuclear power plants to restart after the local assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of it being put back into action.

After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which resulted in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster,  all 48 of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down indefinitely. Prime Minister Abe’s government has been pushing to bring Japan’s nuclear power generators back online on the grounds that importing fossil fuels to make up for the 30 percent of power that was previously nuclear-generated is having a detrimental effect on the Japanese economy. However, the final say on restarting has been left to local authorities. Satsumasendai, the city where the plant is located, had already voted in favour of restarting the plant and a vote on Friday also resulted in 38 out of 47 of Kagoshima’s prefectural assembly backing the restart.

The governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, Yuichiro Ito, also endorsed the restart, telling press, “I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors. I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents.

While the plant’s restart has been officially approved, due to further regulatory and safety checks it is predicted that it will not be operational until sometime next year.