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Premier scraps plans to boost nuclear energy after Fukushima

Japan will scrap plans to obtain half of its electricity from nuclear power and will instead promote renewable sources and energy conservation.

The Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, said yesterday that as a result of the ongoing nuclear crisis caused by the tsunami damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan needed to "start from scratch" on its long-term energy policy.

Nuclear plants supply about 30 per cent of Japan's electricity, and the government had planned to raise that to 50 per cent by 2030. Mr Kan said the country's energy policy would now focus on conservation and on renewable energies such as solar, wind and biomass, rather than nuclear and fossil fuels.

"We will thoroughly ensure safety for nuclear power generation and make efforts to further promote renewable energy," an area where Japan has lagged, he added. Mr Kan also said he would take a pay cut beginning in June until the Fukushima nuclear crisis is resolved to take responsibility as part of the government that has promoted nuclear energy. He did not specify how much of a pay cut he would take.

"I believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted nuclear energy as national policy," Mr Kan said. "I apologise to the people for failing to prevent the nuclear accident."