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Japan shuts down last nuclear reactor

Japan on Sunday began switching off its last operating nuclear reactor for an inspection, with no date scheduled for a restart amid strong public hostility towards atomic power.

The move will leave the world’s third largest economy without atomic energy for the second time since the Fukushima nuclear crisis erupted in March 2011.

Nuclear power supplied about one-third of the resource-poor nation’s electricity before a tsunami knocked out cooling systems and sparked meltdowns at Fukushima, causing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly supported a return to the widespread use of atomic energy, but the public remains largely opposed on safety grounds.

Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) on Sunday started gradually to take offline the No 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in the western prefecture of Fukui.

“The work started at 4:40 pm,” said a company spokesman. “The reactor will come to a complete stop early tomorrow (Monday).”

Japan previously was without any nuclear energy in May 2012, when all of the country’s 50 commercial reactors stopped for checkups in the wake of the disaster.

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