Japan to restructure energy policy

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 20:18

Tokyo: Japan will scrap a plan to increase
nuclear power from 30 per cent to half of the nation`s energy
source by 2030 and will promote renewable energy as a result
of its ongoing nuclear crisis, the Prime Minister said Tuesday.

Naoto Kan told a news conference that Japan needs to
"start from scratch" on its long-term energy policy after the
Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was heavily damaged by
the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and has been leaking
radiation ever since.

Kan said nuclear and fossil fuel used to be the
pillars of Japanese energy policy but now it will add two more
renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass, and a
conservation-oriented society.

"We will thoroughly ensure safety for nuclear power
generation and make efforts to further promote renewable
energy," an area where Japan has lagged behind Europe and the
US, he said.

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 didn`t specify how much of a pay cut he
would take.

The operator of the stricken power plant, Tokyo
Electric Power Co, has been struggling for nearly two months
to restore critical cooling systems that were knocked out by
the disaster.

Some 80,000 people living within a 20-kilometre radius
of the plant were evacuated from their homes on March 12, with
many living in gymnasiums.

On Tuesday, about 100 evacuees were allowed into that
exclusion zone briefly to gather belongings from their homes.

The excursion marked the first time the government has
felt confident enough in the safety of the area to sanction
even short trips there. Residents have been pushing hard for
weeks for permission to check up on their homes.

The evacuees just a fraction of the tens of thousands
forced to flee when the plant started leaking radiation after
the quake and tsunami boarded chartered government buses for
the two-hour visit.

They were provided with protective suits, goggles and
face masks to wear while in the zone, and were issued plastic
bags to put their belongings in.

They were also given dosimeters to monitor radiation
levels and walkie-talkies. All were to be screened for
radiation contamination after leaving the 20-kilometre zone.

More visits are planned, but residents fear they may
never be able to return for good.

Many had been secretly sneaking back into the zone
during the day, but the government concerned over safety and
the possibility of theft began enforcing stricter road blocks
and imposing fines on April 22.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 20:18

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