A Japanese nuclear power plant has become the first to pass the nation’s post-Fukushima safety regulations.

Kyushu Electric Power’s 1780 MW Sendai plant (pictured) in Kagoshima Prefecture, which features two pressurized water reactors, came online in the mid-1980s.  Design upgrades and safety improvements to the plant have now been deemed compliant with the more stringent post-Fukushima safety standards introduced in July 2013. The national Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said today that new plant safety measures have incorporated lessons learned from Fukushima, and that the plant is now equipped to weather a major disaster without incurring a meltdown.

Sendai could be the first plant to restart after all of Japan’s 48 nuclear power plants were shut down for repairs and safety checks post-Fukushima. But the approval is only preliminary – before the NRA issues a final decision on restarting the plant, a month-long public consultation will take place.

Despite public opposition to a restart programme, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the nuclear shutdown is bad for Japan’s economy and his government has approved an energy plan that includes nuclear power.