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Nuclear power to be phased out following Fukushima disaster


Nuclear power should be phased out over the next three decades, say Japanese ministers in a major energy policy U-turn prompted by the Fukushima disaster.

Reversing Japan's long dependence on nuclear power is popular with the public, though it faces opposition from business interests.

The new policy calls for greater reliance on renewable energy, more conservation and sustainable use of fossil fuels, and would see Japan joining Germany in turning its back on nuclear energy.

The government proposal requires endorsement by the entire cabinet, which has reportedly already agreed to the changes.

The Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, said the new policy was only the start of a long, difficult process. "We are only at the starting line," Mr Noda said. "We are going to begin an extremely difficult challenge. We can no longer put it off."

The phase-out of nuclear power by the 2030s is to be achieved mainly by retiring ageing reactors and not replacing them.

Japan began reviewing its energy policy following last year's disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was set off by an earthquake and tsunami. Before the accident, Japan relied on nuclear power for one-third of its energy and had planned to raise that to 50 per cent by 2030.