Japan drops plans for new nuclear plants

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan would abandon plans to build new nuclear reactors, saying his country needed to “start from scratch” in creating a new energy policy.

The May 10 decision reverses a plan that the Kan government released last year to build 14 more nuclear reactors by 2030 and increase the share of nuclear power in Japan’s electricity supply to 50 percent, the New York Times reported. Japan has 54 reactors that produced 30 percent of its electricity before the March 11 earthquake.

On May 6, Mr. Kan asked a utility company to suspend operations at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which sits atop an active earthquake fault line, about 120 miles southwest of Tokyo. Chubu Electric Power agreed May 9 to shut down the plant until a new wave wall was built and other measures could be taken to strengthen it against earthquakes and tsunamis.

Mr. Kan said Japan would retain nuclear and fossil fuels as energy sources, but said two new parts of Japan’s energy policy must include renewable energy and conservation.

“We need to start from scratch,” Mr. Kan was quoted as saying. “We need to make nuclear energy safer and do more to promote renewable energy.”

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