Local authorities have approved the restart of the Sendai Nuclear Power Station despite fierce protests of local residents

Japan to restart first nuclear plant after Fukushima

The first nuclear power plant in Japan has won the final go-ahead to resume operations following a safety upgrade mandated after the Fukushima disaster.

The two reactors of the Kyushu Electric Power-operated Sendai Nuclear Power Station, some 1,000km south-west of Tokyo, will be likely restarted during 2015 following additional safety checks.

"I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors," said Yuichiro Ito, governor of the Kagoshima prefecture.

"I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite (for restart) and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents."

The decision marks an important milestone for Japan whose nuclear energy sector ground to a halt following the 2011 earthquake that damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant.

All 48 workable reactors in Japan have been offline for safety checks or repairs since the 2011 disaster, except for two that have temporarily operated for about a year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for the reactivation of the country’s nuclear reactors as Japan struggled to meet its energy needs. Japan has been forced to import expensive fossil fuels to replace atomic power, which used to supply around 30 per cent of the country's electricity before the 2011.

However, the government decided to leave the decision regarding the restart of individual stations in the hands of local authorities.

Kagoshima held several town hall meetings in areas closest to the nuclear plant ahead of the vote, but some residents complained that they were restricted from asking about evacuation plans.

Eventually, 38 of the 47 members of Kagoshima's prefectural assembly voted for the restart on Friday.

The decision was met with vocal opposition from local protestors who lined the streets outside the prefectural building, holding placards and flags against the nuclear restart.

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