Tokyo: Japan government has asked Chubu Electric Power to shut down the nuclear plant located near a tectonic fault line though making it clear that it will not reverse its policy on atomic power.

Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda asked Chubu Electric Power to accept Prime Minister Naoto Kan's call for the suspension of operations at the Hamaoka plant southwest of Tokyo.

"This is our determination," Kaieda, whose ministry supervises power suppliers, said in the interview, while insisting that the government did not have the legal power to order an immediate closure.

"People's opinions are also important. We would like Chubu Electric Power to make a decision by taking various aspects into consideration."

Attention has been focused on nuclear reactors across the country since the Fukushima Daiichi plant was crippled by a devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, sparking the world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

Seismologists have long warned that a major quake is far overdue in the Tokai region where the Hamaoka plant is located. It is only 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the capital and its huge population.

Chubu Electric Power held a board meeting on Saturday but put off a decision about what course of action it should take following Kan's announcement.

Kaieda, however, said he had no plans to ask for a halt to operations at other nuclear power sites, stressing that the call for a stoppage at Hamaoka did not amount to an immediate change in its nuclear power policy.

"The danger of earthquakes is outstandingly high, compared with that of other nuclear power plants," he said.




(Agencies)