An industry body for Japan’s steelmakers, the nation’s biggest electricity users, urged the early restart of nuclear power plants this week, worried that potential power cuts and higher electricity charges will further squeeze a sector already reeling from the strong yen.

Big businesses have reacted furiously to plans by Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, to raise charges but had refrained from calling for the restart of reactors, wary of an angry response from a public worried about nuclear safety due to the Fukushima radiation crisis, reports Reuters.

“The smooth restart of nuclear power plants after safety checks is very important for Japanese manufacturers,” said Eiji Hayashida, chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.

“Utilities other than Tepco will also be forced to raise electricity charges if they have to turn to gas-fired plants.

“That will further increase our production costs and accelerate manufacturers’ drive to shift production abroad,” said Hayashida, who is also president of JFE Steel Corp , the world’s fifth-biggest steelmaker.

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