Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear power plant

Japan says two idled nuclear reactors safe to restart

Japan has declared two idled nuclear reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co safe and agreed for them to be restarted.

The two units at the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture in the west are the first to be declared safe to restart since last year's Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Trade Minister Yukio Edano told a news conference he, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and two other ministers agreed at a meeting the two reactors would be resilient against a severe event like last year's massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami which wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo.

The four ministers also agreed the restart of the two units would be necessary to avoid a sudden power shortage in the summer, when Kansai's power supply may fall by up to 20 per cent short of peak-hour demand according to the latest government estimate, Edano said.

The No.3 and No.4 units at Kansai's Ohi plant have cleared the government's technical review on resilience against a severe event like last March's earthquake and tsunami.

"We've confirmed safety and necessity for restart of the reactors, and we're now entering into a stage to seek understanding of local communities and the public," Edano said, adding he would visit and meet Fukui governor this weekend to explain the central government's assessments.

Local government agreement is not required by law, but Tokyo has made clear it is reluctant to override wary public opinion.

Before the Fukushima crisis, nuclear met more than 40 per cent of the power need in Kansai's service region around Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolitan area and home to the factories of several top electronics makers.

Only one of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors remains in operation, as public worries over nuclear safety has left communities reluctant to approve restarts of reactors taken offline for routine maintenance.

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