UPDATE 3-Cut nuclear reliance to zero-Japan energy minister

Fri Apr 6, 2012 11:27am GMT
 

* Decision on nuclear power role to be based on experts' debate

* Govt keen for reactor restarts ahead of summer peak demand

* Trade minister denies unseemly haste to restart reactors

By Risa Maeda

TOKYO, April 6 (Reuters) - Japan should aspire to phase out nuclear power completely, its energy minister said on Friday, even as the government struggles to persuade a wary public that it is safe to restart reactors after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Yukio Edano, whose trade portfolio makes him responsible for energy, couched his remark as a personal and not necessarily realistic view - though it could still anger utilities and industries eager to see nuclear power bounce back.

"The government's policy is now to reduce reliance on nuclear power as low as possible," Edano said, adding that it should in future account for less than the third of national electricity it supplied before last year's Fukushima crisis.

On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear power complex north of Tokyo, causing meltdowns, sending radiation into the air and forcing 80,000 people to evacuate from the area.

"I'd like to see the reliance on nuclear cut to zero. I'd like to have a society work without nuclear as early as possible," Edano told a news conference in energy policy.   Continued...

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