* PM wants Fukushima accident taken into account on safety
* Safety concerns run deep, local govts want new measures
(Updates with new Edano quotes)
By Risa Maeda
TOKYO, April 3 Japan needs more time to decide
whether to restart two offline nuclear reactors, the trade
minister said on Tuesday, as concerns about a summer power
crunch vie with safety worries in the wake of last year's
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will not make any immediate
decision on a restart date, Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who
holds the energy portfolio, told reporters.
"The Prime Minister instructed me to compile a standard that
takes into account the analyses of the (Fukushima) crisis
causes, a safety standard even if it is temporary," Edano, who
holds the energy portfolio, told reporters on Tuesday evening.
"It will take some time to obtain the understanding of the
public including the locals. Of course, it is not good to be too
slow but neither is it good to rush," he said.
The nuclear safety watchdog will compile the standard and
present it at the next round of the ministers' meeting to
discuss the restarts of the No.3 and No.4 reactors at Kansai
Electric Power Co's Ohi plant, Edano said.
The date for the next meeting has not been set, Edano said,
but Kyodo news agency quoted a government official as saying
that it will take place later this week.
All but one of Japan's 54 reactors have been shut, mostly
for maintenance checks, over the months since the radiation
disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima plant,
triggered by a huge tsunami in March 2011. The remaining reactor
is set to be closed for maintenance on May 5.
The No.3 and No.4 reactors at Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui
prefecture, western Japan, are the first to have passed
government-imposed, computer-simulated stress tests, a necessary
step before any restart.
Energy markets are keen to know when the Ohi reactors will
go back on line. Their restart could reduce imports of liquefied
natural gas equivalent by about 2 million tonnes a year.
To make up for the lost nuclear power, Japan's utilities
burned 25 percent more imported liquefied natural gas -
equivalent to a total of 51.8 million tonnes - and 150 percent
more crude oil in the year to February, according to the latest
power industry data.
The government, however, must persuade wary locals that the
plants are safe after last year's nine-magnitude earthquake and
tsunami triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
Nuclear power supplied about 30 percent of Japan's
electricity before the crisis, and Noda's administration is now
debating what role it should play in the future.
Japan's defences against another major tsunami and the
safety of its nuclear plants were thrown into further doubt
after two official studies released at the weekend predicted
much higher waves could hit and that Tokyo quake damage could be
bigger than it was prepared for.
(Additional reporting by Yoko Kubota, Osamu Tsukimori and
Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by Linda Sieg and Nick Macfie)