Nuclear regulators on Thursday began assessing the safety of two reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, nearly two months after the utility filed an application to restart them.

The move is a sign of progress for Tepco, which is eager to restart the seven-reactor plant in Niigata Prefecture to improve the tough business conditions it faces due to the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 complex. Earlier, the Nuclear Regulation Authority suggested the process may not go smoothly.

Open safety screening meetings, which the NRA has convened dozens of times for other reactors, had not been held until Thursday for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. Tepco's poor handling of the Fukushima No. 1 crisis has made regulators wary.