TOKYO - Japan on Saturday approved the resumption of nuclear power operations at two reactors, the first to come back on line after they were all shut down following the Fukushima crisis.

The government's decision to restart two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co at Ohi in western Japan was announced by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at a meeting with key ministers.

Despite protests against the move and public safety concerns, the decision could open the door to more restarts among Japan's 50 nuclear power reactors.

The decision is a victory for Japan's still-powerful nuclear industry and reflects Noda's concerns about damage to the economy if atomic energy is abandoned following the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The push to restart the two Ohi reactors, before a potential summer power crunch, also underscores the unpopular premier's eagerness to win backing from businesses worried about high electricity costs that could push factories offshore.

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