Photo/IllutrationChubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Omaezaki city of Shizuoka Prefecture. The picture was taken on March 30, 2016. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

SHIZUOKA--The re-elected governor here has given an emphatic “No” to the question of whether the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, often described as the most dangerous facility of its kind in Japan, should be restarted.

Heita Kawakatsu declared his opposition to the planned restart at a news conference June 27, two days after he was re-elected for a third term as governor.

Kawakatsu had avoided taking a clear position during his election campaign on whether he will endorse resuming operations at the plant, where spent fuel pools are almost full.

His newly clarified stance will likely make it difficult for Chubu Electric Power Co., operator of the facility, to bring the plant back online anytime soon.

“I do not understand the real intention (behind the governor’s position), so I want to refrain from commenting on it,” said Satoru Katsuno, president of Chubu Electric, at a news conference June 28.

At his own news conference, Kawakatsu said there are no signs that the Hamaoka plant will resume operations during the coming four years of his term in office. “I will definitely oppose the restart if there is any move to bring it online,” he said.

He cited danger in the event of an accident and the utility’s limited reliance on nuclear power generation as reasons for his objection.

“Although the central government’s policy allows the restart of ‘safe’ nuclear plants, there are some that have no choice but to be restarted and others that don’t need to be restarted,” he said.

Prefectural governors do not have the legal authority to stop reactor restarts. However, Chubu Electric has concluded a safety agreement with the prefectural government, as well as four local governments, including Omaezaki, which hosts the Hamaoka plant.

If the governor sticks to his position, resuming its operation will be a tough challenge for the utility.

The Hamaoka plant has been described as the most dangerous nuclear plant in Japan because of its proximity to a long-anticipated huge earthquake under the Nankai Trough off the prefecture.

The nuclear plant was shut down in May 2011 at the request of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.