Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strategy to defy public opposition and plug Japan's nuclear power industry back into the national grid has hit a roadblock.
All of Japan's nuclear reactors have remained offline since 2011, when the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant came close to core meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami hit the complex in northeastern Japan.
Since then, the majority of Japanese people remain opposed to any re-starts. However, Abe has been pledging to put the reactors back online since his re-election in 2012, backing calls from big industry to turn back on a third of the country's electricity supply.
Forced to buy fuel at spot prices on the international markets to make up for the shortfall in supply, utilities have raised prices by around 30 percent since 2011.
Earlier this week, the push to get nuclear power up and running was dealt a blow when a district court judge in western Japan ruled Tuesday in favor of a residents' group to prevent the re-start of two reactors in western Japan that had already been approved as safe by a government agency.
Still on track
While the ruling did not come as a surprise -- the same judge has ruled against a reactor restart in the same region last year, nuclear industry hopes are now all pinned on a similar court ruling scheduled for next week for two reactors operated in southwestern Japan by Kyushu Electric.
Another ruling against re-starting a nuclear power plant would seriously stymie the Abe government plans, according to Daiwa chief credit analyst Toshiyasu Ohashi, and even change the outlook for the entire industry.