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TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The governor of Kagoshima prefecture, home to Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant, said restarting the nuclear facility was in its “final stage” in a positive sign for the industry, as the trade minister reiterated support for reviving idled reactors.
All 48 of Japan’s nuclear reactors remain offline more than three years after an earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is pushing to restart reactors that meet new regulatory guidelines.
Kyushu Electric’s two-reactor Sendai plant, located 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo in Satsumasendai, was the first to pass the independent regulator’s safety guidelines last month.
“We are in the final stage on the issue of the Sendai plant’s restart,” said Kagoshima governor Yuichiro Ito during a meeting with newly appointed trade minister Yoichi Miyazawa on Friday.
Japan has said it would defer to local authorities to approve any restart.
The city assembly of Satsumasendai voted in favour of restarting the plant this week and Kagoshima’s prefectural assembly is expected to vote to finalise the restart next Friday, local politicians say.
Only eight lawmakers out of 49 state assemblymen are opposed to restarting the plant.
Ito did not give a timeline for a possible restart of the plant, but any return to operations is seen as unlikely until next year.
Miyazawa, who was appointed to head the powerful trade ministry after the sudden resignation of his predecessor over a political funds scandal, said he planned to tour the nuclear plant and talk to local politicians in Kagoshima next Monday, Nov. 3. (Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Richard Pullin)