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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's nuclear regulator said on Wednesday that its assessment of Kansai Electric Power's Takahama nuclear plant in western Japan was moving along smoothly and was nearly complete on most issues.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave preliminary approval of Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai plant, accepting upgraded design and safety features, clearing a key hurdle to become the first nuclear facility to restart under stricter standards adopted after the Fukushima crisis.

The Takahama plant has also applied to restart, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government moves to restore nuclear reactors to operation and reduce Japan's use of expensive fossil fuels.

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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