TOKYO - Japanese nuclear operators on Monday applied to restart reactors under new rules drawn up following the Fukushima disaster, but early approval is unlikely as a more independent regulator strives to show a skeptical public it is serious about safety.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and the utilities are keen to get reactors running again to cut soaring fuel costs that have pushed the country into a record trade deficit. But the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said it would take at least six months to review nuclear units, as it battles to build credibility with a public whose faith in nuclear power was decimated after meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi station.
All but two of Japan's 50 reactors have been closed in the wake of the disaster in March 2011, which forced 160,000 people from their homes, many of whom are unlikely to be able return for decades.
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