Published on Thursday May 31 2012 (AEST)
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, keen to restart idled nuclear reactors to avoid a summer power crunch, said on Wednesday it was necessary to start those whose safety has been confirmed, adding he was winning understanding from local authorities.
Nuclear power supplied nearly 30 percent of Japan's electricity needs before last year's earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant - the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years. But all of the country's 50 reactors have since been taken offline for checks.
The government has been struggling to win support from local authorities for the restarts, although their permission is not legally required. Noda, talking after a meeting with key ministers to discuss resuming operations at two of Kansai Electric Power Co's reactors in western Japan, said he would make a final decision once local authorities have made up their minds.
A group of regional governors, long concerned about whether it was safe to resume power generation at Kansai Electric's No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in Ohi, western Japan, signalled their agreement to the restarts as a "limited" step.
The governor of the host prefecture of Fukui and the mayor of the town of Ohi where the reactors are located have yet to give final approval, although Ohi's local assembly has signed off on resuming operations. "If we get a decision by local authorities, then we will discuss among the four key ministers and I will make the final decision," Noda told reporters.