Japan to be nuclear free as last reactor switched off

TOKYO, September 15, 2013 (AFP) – Japan is to start the process of switching off its last working nuclear reactor Sunday for a scheduled inspection with no restart in sight due to public hostility towards atomic power. No one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the meltdowns at Fukushima, but tens of thousands of people were evacuated and many remain so, with some areas expected to be uninhabitable for decades. The move will leave the world’s third largest economy without atomic energy for the second time since the Fukushima crisis erupted in March 2011.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly supported the use of nuclear energy, but the public has remained largely opposed to it for fears of possible serious accidents following the world’s worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Kansai Electric Power will gradually take offline the No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture in western Japan.

The work is scheduled to start Sunday evening, with the reactor expected to stop power generation after several hours before coming to a complete stop early Monday, according to the utility.

Japan previously was without any nuclear energy in May 2012, when all of the cou