The Japanese prime minister has reiterated his call for two nuclear reactors to be restarted. The decision is likely to be unpopular with some Japanese voters.
Japan's prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, on Friday said he had decided that two nuclear plants in western Japan should be re-fired, stating that safety measures were in place to prevent a recurrence of the Fukushima disaster.
"It is my decision that Ohi reactors No. 3 and No. 4 should be restarted to protect the people's livelihoods," Noda said.
"Nuclear generation is an important power source (and) energy security is one of the country's most important issues," he added.
Noda also said that jobs could be lost if companies shifted production offshore because of a deficient energy supply.
The decision is expected to be confirmed at a meeting with key ministers.
All of Japan's 50 reactors were taken offline after an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011. Before then, Japan was reliant on nuclear power for nearly 30 percent of its needs.
Many Japanese remain worried about nuclear safety following the disaster, the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. Restarting the reactors could impact on Noda's already sagging popularity ratings.
However, critics of the nuclear shutdown say power blackouts could result in the summer, with some areas falling 20 percent short of demand.
The government's own rules say that to be restarted, reactors must pass internationally-approved tests to show they could withstand a natural disaster. Their host community must also then give its assent.
tj/sej (Reuters, AFP)