Japan PM meets activists as he ponders nuclear power
By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Linda Sieg
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met representatives of a growing anti-nuclear energy movement on Wednesday amid signs his government, pressured by public safety fears, might be leaning towards a target to eliminate atomic power within two decades.
Energy policy has become a major headache for Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan, its ratings battered ahead of a general election many expect within months.
The activists demanded a swift exit from nuclear power, with trust in it undermined by last year's Fukushima atomic disaster, while Noda restated the government's stance to reduce reliance on atomic energy without saying by how much or when.
"We will never, never, never, never give up until reactors are shut. We will never forget the accident on March 11 and what we've lost because of that," one of 11 representatives told Noda in a meeting that was open to media.
Meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant after a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami caused radiation to spew over large areas, forcing more than 160,0000 people to flee. In the following months, all of Japan's nuclear plants were shut for safety checks. Two reactors resumed operations last month.
"We'll never stop our protests until the government says in clear words, that even children can understand, that it will abandon nuclear power," the activist said.
Noda is trying to decide on a medium-term energy plan after the accident forced the government to scrap a 2010 plan to boost nuclear power's share to more than half of electricity needs by 2030. The share before the disaster was about 30 percent.
"We aim to set a direction on energy mix that will give a sense of security to the public in a responsible way," Noda told the activists. "We would like to decide while taking your opinion into consideration and hearing other views as well." Continued...