Idemitsu Kosan, INPEX and other energy corporations began speaking with locals on April 3 about building a geothermal power plant inside Bandai-Asahi National Park in Fukushima Prefecture. If locals agree with the plan, research would begin this year with operation commencing in about 10 years. The area is expected to produce 270,000 kilowatts of geothermal energy, higher than anywhere else in Japan.

The Japanese government is pinning its hopes on the potential for geothermal heat to produce consistent amounts of energy in an effort to expedite the shift toward using renewable energy, and it plans to offer subsidies and other support for this development.

However, steam and hot water from deep underground are used to generate geothermal power, and damage to pipes may cause hot water containing harmful heavy metals to leak out into the open. Opponents of this development are concerned that the hot springs and resorts in the area may suffer the negative effects of such accidents.