Keidanren chief urges nuclear regulators to speed up safety checks

The head of Japan's most influential business lobby, Keidanren, on Thursday urged the Nuclear Regulation Authority to accelerate its safety checks on idled nuclear reactors to facilitate their resumption, following Japan's record monthly goods trade deficit.

The trade deficit in January was due to "a rise in fossil fuel imports," Japan Business Federation Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura told a press conference in Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture. "I want nuclear regulators to speed up examination procedures, given the premise that the reactors must be operated safely."

All of Japan's 48 commercial nuclear reactors are currently offline.

The government plans to allow reactors to resume operations if they clear new stricter safety standards introduced last summer following the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Yonekura also indicated Japan may have to approve the construction of new nuclear reactors in the future if it decides to keep nuclear power as one of its energy sources.