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No rush to form new energy policy: Motegi

Kyodo

Industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday that he will not be rushed into deciding a new energy policy that supports the use of nuclear power.

“We hope to finalize things as early as possible, but we don’t want to rush the process because it is a very important issue,” Motegi, who also holds the energy portfolio, told a press conference.

The government is in the final stages of deciding the so-called Basic Energy Plan, which will be the first of its kind after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster started in 2011, having already solicited opinions from the public on a draft document.

But the draft plan has stirred controversy among lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who have called for the need to break away from nuclear power generation, and Motegi’s comments suggest the policy will not be approved by the Cabinet this month, as initially planned.

Motegi said the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry needs to comb through some 19,000 letters received from the public and also take into account the views of the LDP before officially deciding the plan.

The minister also said he is considering revising the draft with expressions that highlight the state’s proactive stance toward promoting renewable energy.

Although the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for the restart of idled nuclear reactors, some LDP members and former party bigwigs, most notably ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, are becoming increasingly vocal in their concerns about the country relying on nuclear power.