* Tokyo now to seek understanding of local communities
* Trade Minister Edano says to visit Fukui on Sat
(Adds details, comment)
TOKYO, April 13 Two idled Japanese nuclear
reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co have been
declared safe and will need to be restarted, Trade Minister
Yukio Edano said on Friday.
These are the first units to be declared safe to restart
since last year's Fukushima atomic crisis.
Edano told a news conference he, Prime Minister Yoshihiko
Noda and two other ministers agreed at a meeting the two
reactors would be resilient against a severe event like last
year's ma s sive March 11 earthquake and tsunami which wrecked the
Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo.
The four ministers also agreed the restart of the two units
would be necessary to avoid a sudden power shortage in the
summer, when Kansai's power supply may fall by up to 20 percent
short of peak-hour demand according to the latest government
estimate, Edano said.
The No.3 and No.4 units at Kansai's Ohi nuclear plant in
Fukui prefecture in the west have cleared the government's
technical review on resilience against a severe event like last
March's earthquake and tsunami.
"We've confirmed safety and necessity for restart of the
reactors, and we're now entering into a stage to seek
understanding of local communities and the public," Edano said,
adding he would visit and meet Fukui governor on Saturday to
explain the central gov e rnment's assessments.
Local government agreement is not required by law, but Tokyo
has made clear it is reluctant to override wary public opinion.
Before the Fukushima crisis, nuclear met more than 40
percent of the power need in Kansai's service region around
Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolitan area and home to the
factories of several top electronics makers.
Only one of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors remains in
operation, as public worries over nuclear safety has left
communities reluctant to approve restarts of reactors taken
offline for routine maintenance.
(Reporting by Risa Maeda and Yoko Kubota; editing by James