Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda Friday renewed his call for the re-firing of idle nuclear reactors, saying Japan could not do without atomic energy, but stopped short of ordering a restart.
Noda called on local authorities to allow operations to resume at the Oi nuclear plant in western Japan.
"Units number 3 and 4 should restart to support people's lives, that's my decision," Noda told a news conference. "Therefore I want to seek the understanding of local governments."
"Nuclear generation is an important power source and energy security is one of the country's most important issues."
Japan's political classes have been tip-toeing around the unpopular issue of reactor restarts for months, wary of public distrust of the technology since the meltdowns at Fukushima in the aftermath of last year's tsunami.
The reactors at Oi are so far the only ones that are anywhere near gaining the necessary approval, but the process has become a kind of Mexican stand-off in which neither local politicians nor the central government in Tokyo has been willing to make the first move.
But increasingly alarmist warnings of summer power blackouts, with some estimates suggesting certain areas could see electricity supply fall as much as 20 percent short of demand, have added urgency to the issue.