A Saga Prefecture mayor approved a plan Tuesday to restart two nuclear reactors in his town, a step toward the resumption of the nation's third atomic power plant since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
"While taking the assembly's approval seriously, I decided to accept the government's policy," Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai, told a news conference.
Now the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai plant, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co., depends on the consent of seven other municipalities within a 30-km (18-mile) radius of the plant.
The government is pushing for reactors to be restarted as nuclear power is regarded as a key energy source, even after the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in the days after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of the Tohoku region.
The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai plant in January passed tougher safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A majority of the town's assembly members voted in favor of the restart on Feb. 24.
Kishimoto informed Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi and Kyushu Electric Power President Michiaki Uriu of his approval Tuesday by telephone.
The Saga governor will make a judgment on the matter after hearing from all mayors in the prefecture at a meeting on March 18.
All four reactors at the Genkai plant had halted operations by December 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. Kyushu Electric decided to decommission the aging No. 1 reactor.
Of the nation's 45 commercial reactors nationwide as of Tuesday, only three are now operating.
They are the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric's Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.