Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Fumio Kishida responds to questions from reporters on July 14. (Yosuke Fukudome)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the central government intends to bring up to nine nuclear reactors online this winter to prepare for possible power shortages during peak periods. 

Kishida told a July 14 news conference that he instructed economy minister Koichi Hagiuda to start preparations.

“We are aiming to put as many nuclear reactors as possible online,” said Kishida. “We will have up to nine reactors operating this winter to secure enough sources of energy to cover about 10 percent of Japan’s overall power consumption.”

The move comes as the government is asking the public to save electricity this summer amid a power shortage, which will likely become even more severe in the winter.

According to government sources, five of the nine reactors are at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture: the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant; the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama plant; and the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. operates another three of the nine reactors: the No. 3 reactor at the Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture, and the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The other is the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime Prefecture.

All nine reactors were brought online at least once after passing the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening for a restart. Four were in operation as of July 14.

Kishida said he also instructed government officials to get 10 more units of thermal power plants ready for operations to ensure a stable power supply during peak periods.