USA | Japan PM Says Wants To Phase Out Nuclear Energy

Posted on July 13, 2011



— Prime Minster Naoto Kan says wants to phase out nuclear energy

— Kan does not give details or timetable, says won’t call snap election over energy policy

— Kan says enough power supply for this summer and winter due to conservation efforts

TOKYO (Dow Jones)–Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Wednesday that he wants to phase out the use of nuclear power, saying the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had shown that the risks of atomic energy are too great.

The statement marks a complete reversal from Japan’s previous policy to make nuclear power its main source of electricity, and is a step further than Kan’s recent comments that he wants to reduce its share.

But Kan did not give a timetable for reducing the share of nuclear energy, and many lawmakers question whether such a major shift in policy should be carried out by Kan, who has said he will step down once key bills on quake reconstruction are enacted.

“We should aim to have a society that does not rely on nuclear power,” Kan told a televised press conference. “In the future, we should realize a society that can carry on without nuclear reactors.”

Nuclear energy accounts for about 30% of the country’s total power supply.

Following the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Kan said an energy policy decided by the government last year to boost the share of nuclear energy to over half of total power supply should be reconsidered.

“I have come to realize that this is a technology that cannot be controlled by previous safety measures,” Kan said, adding the disaster had altered his thinking.

Kan said Japan should gradually reduce its reliance on atomic energy, but said it was too early to give a timetable. He also did not say whether the issue should be handled by the next prime minister.

Kan ruled out speculation that he would dissolve parliament and call a snap election over energy policy, but added that the voters have the right to choose their energy policy.

The prime minister said there was possibility that nuclear reactors now shut for maintenance would go back online, but also said there should be enough electricity supply to get through this summer and winter due to current conservation efforts.

The government last week changed its nuclear safety evaluation procedure, when the premier hastily floated the idea of requiring all existing nuclear power reactors to undergo additional stress tests to ensure the public of their safety.

Consumers in affected areas such as Tokyo are being called upon to cut usage by 15% from normal levels due to the shutdown of plants after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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