Photo/IllutrationRepresentatives of four anti-nuclear groups criticize the Nuclear Regulation Authority's decision to approve the safety of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture on Dec. 27. (Koji Atsumi)

The central government could reduce grants to local governments in Niigata Prefecture by more than 1.2 billion yen (about $10.6 million) in total if the governor does not approve the restarts of two nuclear reactors.

Tokyo is planning the decreases under revised regulations related to reactors that remain idle despite being cleared to run.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Dec. 27 said the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture have passed major safety screenings for a resumption of operations.

Although the Kashiwazaki city government and the Kariwa village government welcomed the NRA’s announcement, Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama said he would not make a decision on the restarts until after the prefectural government wraps up its investigation into the cause of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The investigation could take three or four years to complete.

The central government provides grants to local governments that host nuclear power facilities. The size of the grants is based on the level of power generation at those facilities and other factors.

After the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, operations of all nuclear reactors in Japan were suspended. But the government continued to provide the grants on the assumption that operations were conducted to a certain degree.

In April 2016, however, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revised the regulations on the grants.

According to the revision, if reactors do not start running after all screenings for their restarts are completed, the assumed operation rate will be gradually reduced starting six months later, and it will become zero after nine months of inaction.

A reduced operation rate will lead to a drastic decrease in the grant.

The Niigata prefectural government and the governments of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa calculated the reduction amounts in the grants if the two reactors remain offline.

They found that the grants would decline by about 740 million yen for Niigata Prefecture, 100 million yen for Kashiwazaki city, and 400 million yen for Kariwa village in 2020 at the earliest.