Japanese nuclear plants stay shut, court rules

TOKYO - A Japanese court upheld an injunction banning the restart of two nuclear reactors, a report said Tuesday, in a blow to the government's ambitions to return to atomic power generation.

Fukui District Court in central Japan dismissed Kansai Electric Power's motion for a stay on an earlier decision to temporarily bar the restart of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at plant in Takahama, Kyodo News said.

The decision made Monday comes as the government and Japan's powerful utility companies work to get reactors back online, more than four years after the disaster at Fukushima.

The accident forced Japan's entire fleet of reactors offline over the following months amid deepening public suspicion over the technology.

Tokyo says the world's third largest economy needs nuclear power - a technology that once supplied more than a quarter of Japan's electricity - to meet its energy demand.

But the populace is still wary, and images of tens of thousands of people displaced from ancestral lands at Fukushima continue to haunt the national dialogue.

Issuing the injunction on the restart, the Fukui court earlier said the safety of the reactors at Takahama had not been proved, despite a green light from industry watchdog the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), whose guidelines, the court said, were "too loose" and "lacking in rationality".

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has backed an industry push to return to nuclear power, with Japan's manufacturers complaining about the high cost of electricity produced from dollar-denominated fossil fuels.