A court in Japan issued an injunction Tuesday blocking a power company from restarting two of its nuclear reactors.
Nuclear regulators had already cleared Kansai Electric Power to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at a plant in the western province of Fukui according to new standards put in place following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
But residents challenged the plan to resume operations later this year, saying the new standards were not sufficient to protect against a powerful earthquake.
Kansai said it would appeal the ruling, but it could mean months, even years of delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the utility, which is about to report a fourth annual loss since Fukushima.
Public broadcaster NHK Television said the ruling stated that safety at Kansai Electric's Takahama plant west of Tokyo cannot be assured and the regulator's standards “lack rationality.”
The ruling places a question mark over Japan's beefed up nuclear safety after Fukushima.
The reactors, located on the coast of Fukui prefecture in western Japan, have met safety regulations set by Japan's nuclear regulator and were expected to be restarted sometime this year.
Shares in the utility initially fell after ruling, before rebounding.
For Abe, resuming nuclear power - which supplied nearly one-third of Japan's electricity pre-Fukushima - is key to lifting the world's third-biggest economy out of two decades of anemic growth.
Some material for this report came from Reuters.