Energy: Japan nuclear reactor goes online [VIDEO] image

Ohi nuclear plant’s reactor No. 3 is returning to operation despite a deep divide in public opinion.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tokyo on Friday carrying banners to protest a return to nuclear power in Japan. Protesters surrounded Noda’s residence in central Tokyo to make sure their message would not be ignored.

Despite massive public opposition, the government refused to reconsider its decision .

The restart of the 1.18-million-kilowatt No. 3 reactor will help reduce the utility’s projected power shortage from 14.9 percent to 9.2 percent in its service area this summer, according to reports.

Kansai Electric Power Co., the utility that operates Oi in central Japan, was not immediately available for comment Sunday. It said on its website that a nuclear reaction restarted Sunday afternoon at the No. 3 reactor, a key step for it to begin producing electricity.

Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast in northeastern Japan was crippled by a major earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggering the worst radioactive leakage in history.

Before the March 2011 nuclear disaster, Japan had relied on nuclear energy for about 30% of its electricity needs, according to government figures.