File image of Reactor III at the Genkai Nuclear Power Station, Japan.
A nuclear reactor in south-western Japan was brought back online on Friday for the first time in more than seven years, in spite persistent local opposition, the operator said.
Reactor III at the Genkai Nuclear Power Station in Saga prefecture on the island of Kyushu has been restarted, Kyushu Electric Power president Michiaki Uriu said in a statement.
Uriu said the operator has started to pull out control rods at the unit.
The move is considered to be an “important step in the process of restarting the reactor.”
The reactor was shut down in December 2010 for a regular inspection, three months before the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
A group of local residents had filed lawsuits to stop the Genkai plant’s operation even before the nuclear accident at Fukushima.
As of Thursday, only four of Japan’s 42 functioning reactors were in operation.
Nuclear-generated electricity used to account for about 30 per cent of the country’s output before the Fukushima meltdown.
On March 14, Kansai Electric Power reactivated Reactor III at the Oi Nuclear Power Station on the Sea of Japan coast, 400 km west of Tokyo.