On a gray winter day late last month alternating between rain and sleet, many in the Sea of Japan town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, were feeling sunny. For the restart of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama plant No. 3 reactor means not only a return to nuclear power, but a return of the money stream that flows from it.

Since 1970, Fukui has been the home of the largest concentration of nuclear power plants in Japan — and possibly the world — hosting a total of 13 commercial reactors.

For the past 4½ decades, the plants, spread across the towns of Tsuruga, Mihama, Takahama and Oi, provided local employment and an array of other benefits.