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Japan restarts second nuclear reactor despite opposition

Japan has restarted a second reactor at a nuclear power plant. The government is trying to bring down energy prices, but faces widespread opposition to nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

On Thursday, Kyushu Electric Power restarted a second reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant on the island of Kyushu, located 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southwest of Tokyo and only 50 kilometers from

the active Sakurajima volcano.

The reactivation marks the second nuclear reactor to go back online since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Following the earthquake-tsunami triggered disaster, which released radioactive material and displaced up to 160,000 people, the government gradually shut down nuclear power plants pending a review and security checks.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014 reversed the previous government's decision to phase out nuclear power, arguing it was necessary to provide cheap and affordable energy. Before the disaster, the world's third largest economy got a third of its energy from nuclear power, but has since had to rely on expensive liquefied natural gas and oil imports.

Tokyo plans to increase nuclear power as a share of the country's energy profile to between 20 and 22 percent by 2030.

However, the return of nuclear power faces stiff

public opposition following Fukushima.

The

first reactor at the Sendai plant was restarted two months ago.

The second reactor is expected to begin producing power on October 21 and reach commercial operability in November.

Nearly 50 other reactors remain offline, while three others have passed clearances but have not restarted.

cw/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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