Chugoku Electric Power Co. on Friday applied to the government for safety screening of a nuclear reactor it is building, opening up the possibility of it becoming the nation's first new reactor to go into operation since the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

"With existing nuclear reactors currently restarting, we thought it was possible to file for checks of the No. 3 unit," Tatsuo Kitano, managing executive officer of the utility based in Hiroshima Prefecture, told reporters.

Work on the No. 3 unit at the Shimane plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, is almost complete, and safety checks by nuclear regulators may proceed faster than for another reactor in Aomori Prefecture that is also under construction.