he No 3 reactor at the Oi atomic plant, in the central Japan prefecture of Fukui, was restarted on Sunday evening and should begin generating electricity on Wednesday, according to officials of Kansai Electric Power Co. The reactor is expected to start operating at full capacity from Sunday.
Restarting the plant has been hugely contentious in Japan, where there has been a public backlash against atomic energy 16 months after the second-worst nuclear accident in history.
A crowd estimated at 150,000-strong protested against the restart outside the official residence of Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister, on Friday evening, while some 100 demonstrators used cars in an attempt to block the road to the Oi plant over the weekend.
Protestors clashed briefly with police riot teams after entering the grounds of the facility.
The Japanese government and industry insists that nuclear power is needed if parts of the country are not to experience power cuts in the coming months. Energy consumption surges in Japan’s notoriously hot summer months, despite efforts to encourage people to reduce the amount they use, particularly on air conditioning.