| TOKYO, July 16
TOKYO, July 16 A nuclear plant in southern Japan
cleared an initial safety hurdle on Wednesday which could see it
become the first nuclear facility to restart after the industry
was idled by the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
With Japan in its first summer without nuclear power in four
decades, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to restart the
country's 48 nuclear reactors, as a prolonged shutdown forces
the nation to rely on expensive fossil fuel imports.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave preliminary safety
approval for Kyushu Electric Co's Sendai plant,
accepting the facility's upgraded design and safety features.
This is expected to lead to the nuclear station's restart by
Japan's reactors were gradually taken offline, with the last
one shutting down last year, after a massive earthquake and
tsunami crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011,
triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
The Fukushima disaster shook public confidence in atomic
power and exposed close ties between the powerful nuclear
industry and a regulator that was overseen by a government arm
that promoted the energy source.
(Editing by William Mallard and Chang-Ran Kim)