Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority has issued a virtual green light for the restart of 2 reactors operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO.
Regulators unanimously endorsed Wednesday safety measures for reactors 6 and 7 set forth by TEPCO at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast.
They say the measures meet new regulations introduced after the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi.
The regulators' decision marks the first time TEPCO is cleared to restart a reactor since the triple meltdown.
It's also the first time boiling-water reactors of the same type as those used at Fukushima Daiichi are approved to go back online.
The regulators adopted a draft assessment for the two units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in October. They then invited the public to express their views.
On Wednesday, the regulators acknowledged that some people believe TEPCO shouldn't be allowed to operate nuclear reactors because it caused the accident of March 2011.
But the regulators said their approval is based on more stringent inspections than at other nuclear plants. They concluded that TEPCO is capable of operating the reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.
The next step for TEPCO will be to obtain the consent of local authorities, but it's unclear when that will happen.
Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama has already indicated he will oppose the restart until his prefecture finishes investigating the 2011 nuclear accident. The probe is expected to last about 3 years.