• Kyodo

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A town mayor in western Japan gave approval Thursday to restart a nuclear reactor in the area, bringing closer the resumption of the third reactor in Japan under tougher safety rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

“I will accept the resumption,” Ikata Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita told Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura at the prefectural office building in Matsuyama, referring to the No. 3 unit at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant that cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screening process in July.

The process to secure local approval is expected to effectively wrap up with the decision of the local governor, possibly to be announced next week. The prefectural and Ikata town assemblies have already approved the restart.

“I want to think well, including through the weekend,” Nakamura told reporters after meeting the town mayor.

The No. 3 reactor is the fifth reactor acknowledged by regulators as safe enough to restart in line with a set of tougher safety requirements introduced in the wake of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

Of the five, Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai complex in Kagoshima Prefecture resumed operations on Aug. 11 and Oct. 15, respectively.

While community concerns persist about the use of nuclear reactors, Japan ended a nearly two-year period without nuclear power in August by rebooting one of the Sendai reactors and is moving to revive its reliance on nuclear power under the government’s energy policy.

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