TOKYO: Japanese power companies on Monday asked for permission to restart 10 nuclear reactors, a move that could presage a widespread return to atomic energy more than two years after the Fukushima disaster.
The firms submitted applications to regulators for safety assessments on units at five separate plants on the day that new beefed-up rules came into force.
The requests are the first step on a journey that could take many months, but which commentators say is likely to result in the resumption of nuclear power generation in Japan.
All but two of the country’s 50 nuclear reactors are offline, shut down for safety checks after the Fukushima disaster, the worst the world has seen since Chernobyl in 1986.
If the regulator gives the green light, the companies must then get the nod from national and regional politicians.
Three reactors are at one site on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, while the remaining seven are in four plants in the west of the country, the utilities said separately.
However, Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), said it has yet to submit an application for a safety assessment of two of the seven units at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, the world’s biggest.
“We are considering submitting the application but we have a policy of seeking local agreement on it,” said a Tepco spokesman.