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Japan PM Abe wants new nuclear reactors: reports

01 january 2013, 12:24
Japan's new prime minister Shinzo Abe has voiced his willingness to build new nuclear reactors, reports said Monday, despite widespread public opposition to atomic energy in light of the Fukushima crisis, AFP reports.

During an interview Sunday with television network TBS, Abe remarked that new reactors would be different to those at Fukushima which were crippled by the earthquake-tsunami, according to major news outlets including the Nikkei business daily and Kyodo News.

It was the first time that Abe has clearly declared his wish to build new reactors since he officially took office on Wednesday.

"New reactors will be totally different from the ones built 40 years ago -- those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that caused the crisis," Abe said in the interview, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

"We will be building them while earning understanding of the public as to how different they are," he was quoted by the Nikkei as saying.

Abe's widely reported remarks came a day after he visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), which suffered reactor meltdowns after its emergency cooling system was battered by the deadly tsunami of March 11, 2011.

During his visit Abe described the clean-up at Fukushima as "an unprecedented challenge in human history".

In the TBS interview Abe stressed that only the Fukushima reactors had been damaged by the 9.0 earthquake-triggered tsunami, while other regional power plants remained largely intact, it was reported.

The government and TEPCO expect to spend more than 30 years decommissioning the crippled reactors, which spewed out radioactive materials over a wide area, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

All of Japan's 50 reactors were shuttered for inspections in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Only two have since been restarted.

Observers widely expect Japan to restart its nuclear programme under Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party, despite public concerns that the party was partially responsible for the extent of the catastrophe because of a culture of complicity during its more than five-decade rule.

Abe had previously said he wished to review a pledge by the previous administration to scrap nuclear power within three decades and would give the green light to restart plants deemed safe by regulators.

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