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

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, his popularity ratings sagging, had backed the restarts for some time. He announced the government's decision at a meeting with keep ministers, giving the go-ahead to two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co at Ohi in western Japan.

The decision, despite public concerns over safety after the big earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant, could open the door to more restarts among Japan's 50 nuclear power reactors.

"There is no such thing as a perfect score when it comes to disaster prevention steps," Trade Minister Yukio Edano told a news conference after the announcement.