Opposition to the use of nuclear power in Japan remains strong. Pic: AP.

TOKYO (AP) — A nuclear power plant in southern Japan has received a passing grade for safety requirements raised after the Fukushima disaster, clearing a major hurdle toward becoming the first to restart under the tighter rules.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a report that concludes that two reactors at Sendai Nuclear Power Station have complied with the new regulations and are capable of avoiding disasters such as the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns, even if the plant faces equally harsh conditions.

The authority is expected to give final approval after a 30-day technical and scientific public comment period.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to bring at least some of Japan’s 48 reactors back online, saying a prolonged shutdown hurts Japan’s economy.