REGIONAL authorities in Japan have approved the restart of the idled Sendai nuclear plant of Kyushu Electric Power Co, paving the way for a revival of the stalled industry more than three years after the Fukushima disaster.

The move represents a victory for the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which has defended the importance of nuclear power for resource-starved Japan and pushed to restart its fleet of 48 offline reactors.

The two-reactor Sendai plant, 600 miles southwest of Tokyo in Kagoshima prefecture, won an important endorsement for the restart from the local township last month.

Governor Yuichiro Ito said: "I have decided it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors.

"I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents."

The Sendai plant is still unlikely to reopen until next year as the utility still needs to pass safety checks.