Japan has shut down its second-last nuclear reactor, raising the possibility of power shortages this summer, Al Jazeera reported.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said Sunday it had shut down the number 6 reactor at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, which is the world's biggest, for routine maintenance.
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Tepco president Toshio Nishizawa said in a statement:
“We are likely to be able to provide stable electricity supply at the moment, but we would like to ask customers to continue conserving power ... We are closely studying the summer power supply situation. We will do our utmost to operate in a stable way and maintain our facilities."
The country's last operating reactor is Hokkaido Electric's Tomari No. 3, which will be closed down on May 5 for maintenance, Reuters reported.
Japan has 54 nuclear reactors, but public safety fears following the earthquake and tsunami more than a year ago have led to calls for the reactors not be reactivated once their maintenance is complete.
Tepco owns 17 reactors, which supply electricity to 45 million people in the Tokyo area, including the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, worst hit by tsunami.
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The Japanese authorities have been conducting stress tests on nuclear power stations in an effort to prove to residents they can withstand earthquakes, the BBC reported.
The reactors must undergo routine maintenance every 13 months, and with residents refusing to allow them to be restarted, electricity companies have been putting old power plants back into service.
The Japanese government has also increased its imports of fossil fuels, the BBC reported.