Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata No. 3 reactor in Ehime Prefecture became the fifth reactor at the third plant to obtain regulatory approval for a restart since the 2011 Fukushima triple meltdown, getting the green light from the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday.

But while the operator hopes to have the reactor back online by winter at the earliest, it must still complete a number of further measures and obtain local consent before restarting the unit. With concerns about how viable evacuation plans would be, Shikoku Electric officials said they plan to visit residents near the plant in a face-to-face effort to convince them to allow the plant to go ahead.

Wednesday's decision by the NRA had been expected and represents a major step toward restart for the 890-megawatt reactor. Shikoku Electric predicts electricity sales from a restart will improve earnings by around ¥5 billion per month.