Two aging nuclear reactors have come a step closer to being allowed to exceed their 40-year service lifetimes, in what would be the first such extensions under new safety guidelines.

On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority reported that safety systems at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture meet standards. The decision will be finalized after soliciting comments from the public.

However, the reactors must clear further hurdles before they can resume operation — in the form of further permission from the regulator.

The clock is ticking. They must secure this approval by July 7 or they will be scrapped.

Tougher safety rules were imposed in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 meltdowns. They prohibit, in principle, the operation of nuclear reactors for longer than four decades, but extensions of 20 years are allowed if operators make safety upgrades and pass screening by the regulator.

The No. 1 reactor of the Takahama complex marked 40 years of operation in November 2014 and the No. 2 reactor last November.

A total of five reactors at three plants have so far obtained final approval for restarts under the stricter safety rules, including two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture and a reactor at the Takahama plant that have resumed operations.