TOKYO — Japan's new industry minister has acknowledged it will be difficult to restart the companion nuclear plant to the one at the heart of the country's atomic crisis, media reports said.

The Fukushima Daini (number two) nuclear complex is about 12 kilometres (seven miles) from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi (number one) plant where reactors went into meltdown following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Daini plant was less badly hit but was unlikely to gain approval to restart operations, Yukio Edano said in an interview Thursday with local media including the Kyodo news agency.

"I do not believe that we can obtain local approval," Kyodo quoted him as saying, adding that approval from local authorities was a "precondition" for any plant to restart operations.

All four reactors at the Fukushima Daini plant were hit by the twin natural disasters but have been brought to a stable state of "cold shutdown".

The six reactors at the Daiichi plant will be taken out of operation, the previous government of Naoto Kan said. Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes by the nuclear crisis and still do not know when they can return.

Edano -- who served as the face of the government after the natural disasters -- was named industry minister by the new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, this week after his predecessor resigned over a series of gaffes.