Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Wednesday reiterated that the country will promote renewable energy, such as solar and wind power and biomass fuels, but also said it intends to continue using nuclear energy.
At a press conference, Kan also said nuclear power plants currently suspended for regular inspections will be allowed to resume operations once their safety is confirmed.
Japan, which is heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil, owns 54 reactors that produced 30 percent of its electricity before the March 11 earthquake.
The energy policy drafted last year targets that nuclear power will account for over 50 percent of the country’s total electricity output by 2030, up from the present 30 percent, while renewable energy will be doubled to 20 percent.
But Kan has been promising to review the plans since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggered by the March 11 earthquake and the resulting tsunami.
The premier also said Japan needs to reinforce the independence of its nuclear regulators to ensure safety.
“We need to fundamentally review the way nuclear policy has been administrated over the years,” said, Kan, pointing out that it is inappropriate for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency to belong to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which has promoted atomic energy.
“We need to consider how nuclear power policy is regulated and how electricity is supplied,” he said.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, said Tuesday it still aims to bring the reactors under control by January as it announced last month, despite worse-than-expected damages to the facilities, including a fuel meltdown in the No. 1 reactor and a large leak of water.
The magnitude-9.0 quake and subsequent tsunami on March 11 hit Fukushima plant, located 230 km north of Tokyo, knocking out its vital cooling systems. It resulted in explosions, fires and the world’s worst radiation crisis since 1986 Chernobyl.