Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Japan must reduce dependence on nuclear power says PM

Japan must decrease its reliance on nuclear power, prime minister Naoto Kan has said.

Nuclear workers are battling a radiation crisis at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has sparked public debate over the role of nuclear power in the earthquake-prone country. 

"We must scrap the plan to have nuclear power contribute 53 per cent of electricity supply by 2030 and reduce the degree of reliance on nuclear power," Kan said.

A 2010 basic energy plan had called for boosting nuclear energy's share of the electricity supply by building at least 14 new reactors, but many politicians agree that is nearly impossible now given the growing public anxiety.

However there are also concerns over power shortages as 35 of the country's 54 reactors are currently off-line.

The crisis has also prompted discussions about whether to reform the way the nuclear power business, now the bailiwick of private utilities, is run.

Kan defended his decision to introduce two-stage stress tests for reactors to soothe public safety concerns, but apologised for any confusion caused.

Last week's surprise announcement of the stress tests fanned corporate worries about summer power shortages if idled reactors remain off-line, and outraged some local officials who had been ready to approve reactor restarts after getting government safety assurances.

Kan has already begun a blank-slate review of Japan's energy policy and set a goal of boosting renewable energy sources' share to more than 20 per cent of electricity by the 2020s.

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