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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kan plan set to end nuke goals


Staff writer

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday the administration plans to propose a new energy policy "in the near future" and that the current goal of increasing dependency of nuclear power to 53 percent by 2030 needs to be abandoned.

News photo
My turn: Prime Minister Naoto Kan appears before a Lower House committee Tuesday. KYODO

Local governments are hesitant to give the green light allowing nuclear plants to resume generating power, prompting the Kan administration to require all facilities to undergo so-called stress tests.

During a special committee meeting in the Lower House, Kan said he "hopes to show (the revision of the government's energy policy) in the not-too-distant future.

"We need to withdraw our energy policy which states 53 percent of energy will be generated from nuclear power by 2030, and to lower dependency on it," he said.

Nuclear power currently accounts for about 30 percent of the nation's energy supply.

Along with the decline of nuclear power, "the dependency on fossil fuels will rise temporarily," he said.

The government is reviewing long-term energy policy after the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Kan said in May that the government will scrap that policy and increase the amount from renewable energy sources to 20 percent in the 2020s.

Responding to a question from a Liberal Democratic Party member, Kan said it is difficult to achieve that goal immediately because alternative energy accounts for only 1.1 percent at present. But he said it is possible within five to 10 years.

Kan, eager to push renewable energy, said development on alternative energy was not promoted in the previous LDP-led government because it was labeled as an ineffective way to generate power.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers criticized Kan for creating confusion among local governments in Saga Prefecture over restarting nuclear reactors at the Genkai facility. Kan apologized, saying: "My instructions were insufficient and late. I'm sorry for causing confusion."

The opposition also criticized Kan's abrupt decision to conduct stress tests to evaluate the ability of nuclear reactors to withstand extreme natural disasters. Details on how and when the tests will be carried out are still unclear.



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