Japan's government has approved bringing the country's first nuclear reactors back online since last year's earthquake and tsunami led to a shutdown of reactors nationwide.
Despite lingering safety concerns, the restart could speed the resumption of operations at more reactors across the country.
The decision paves the way for a power company in western Japan to immediately begin work to restart two reactors in Ohi town, a process that is expected to take several weeks.
All of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors are now offline for maintenance or safety checks.
Public opposition to the resumption of nuclear operations remains high because of the crisis the tsunami touched off at Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
The restart is being closely watched as an indicator of how aggressively the government will act to approve operations at other reactors.
The government has been pushing hard to bring some reactors online as soon as possible to avert power shortages as demand increases during the summer months. It says the reactors in the town of Ohi are particularly important because they are in an area that relied heavily on nuclear before the crisis, and have passed safety checks.
"Safety is our main concern," said trade and industry minister Yukio Edano.
"We have approved the beginning of the restarting process. It will take some time for the reactors to begin generating electricity, and we request people continue to save energy. If there are safety problems, the process could be delayed."
Premier Yoshihiko Noda announced the government's approval after Ohi's mayor and the local governor publicly stated they support the plan. Local approval is not needed legally.