TOKYO (AP) — Japan is moving a step closer to restarting nuclear reactors as utilities are set to file for safety inspections at their idled reactors, the clearest sign of Japan's return to nuclear energy nearly two and a half years after the Fukushima disaster.

With all but two of its 50 reactors off line since the disaster, Japan has been without nuclear energy that once supplied about a third of its power.

Four of nine Japanese nuclear plant operators will apply for safety inspections by the Nuclear Regulation Authority for a total of 10 reactors Monday, when new safety requirements take effect.

Critics say the rules have loopholes, including grace periods for some safety equipment.

Pro-industry Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed for restarting the reactors, saying they're vital to Japan's economy.

 

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