Tokai Mayor Tatsuya Murakami, known for his strident opposition to nuclear power, has retired after 16 years leading the Ibaraki Prefecture village, which hosts multiple atomic energy facilities and the uranium plant where a deadly criticality accident occurred in 1999.

"The last 2½ years were a heart-breaking uphill battle," Murakami, 70, told a news conference Friday, recalling the March 2011 quake and tsunami that triggered the meltdowns at the poorly protected Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the neighboring prefecture.

The village's Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant had a brush with disaster after one of its three emergency power sources was damaged by tsunami. Tokai is about 115 km northeast of Tokyo.