* Chubu's Hamaoka nuclear plant may face political obstacles
* Experts have warned that Hamaoka near active quake zone
TOKYO, May 5 (Reuters) - Strict safety measures may prevent Chubu Electric Power Co <9502.T> from restarting two reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear plant after they are shut for regular maintenance, the local governor said on Thursday.
The comment was a sign of the political obstacles that face the plant in central Japan, where the No. 4 and 5 reactors are due for future maintenance.
Japan has called for stricter safety measures following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged Tokyo Electric Power Co's <9501.T> Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Utilities now have to keep their reactors shut for longer periods under regular maintenance to make extra checks.
Some experts have warned about safety risks at Hamaoka, which is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of Tokyo and sits near an active earthquake zone that the government has forecast carries an 87 percent chance of producing a magnitude 8 or stronger earthquake in the next 30 years.
Chubu Electric has said it is not committed to a July restart of the 1,100 megawatt No.3 reactor, which has been shut since November for planned maintenance. [ID:nL3E7FS3IS]
The 1,137 MW No.4 reactor and the 1,380 MW No. 5 reactor are currently operating.
"Chubu Electric is facing a very tough situation regarding nuclear power. If things continue on like this, I think that reactors No.3 to 5 will face a natural death," Heita Kawakatsu, the governor of Shizuoka prefecture, said in a meeting with government officials including Banri Kaieda, the minister of economy, trade and industry who oversees energy policy.
"Reactors No.4 and 5 will also go through their planned maintenance. Reactor No.3 cannot be restarted despite having received approval," Kawakatsu told reporters later.
"So even if No.4 and 5 are said to be fine, if the maintenance standards are the same as No.3, then it would also be difficult to operate No.4 and 5," he added.
Kawakatsu said Chubu Electric had acted quickly but repeated his stance that Japan's third-biggest power company had not done enough to meet the central government's recently imposed safety regulations.
"There are expert opinions that geologically a tsunami would hit our prefecture even faster than it hit the Fukushima plant. Even with that being so, the fact that tsunami defense measures are being done in an off-the-cuff manner is enough to cause unease, including in myself," he said.
While the minister of economy, trade and industry decides whether reactors can be restarted, local authorities have a say on safety issues.
Kaieda, who ordered nuclear plant operators in March to take immediate steps to improve emergency preparedness following the Fukushima crisis, has been visiting plants to check on the safety measures. [ID:nL3E7EU110]
Earlier this week, Kaieda also visited Kansai Electric <9503.T>'s Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota, editing by Jane Baird)
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