Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Friday that preparations for restoration and reconstruction work have begun in disaster-hit areas and Japan will prevail over the hardships caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

He did not, however, offer an outlook on when the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be stabilized.

Kan Friday night marked three weeks since the deadly tsunami ripped up the northeast coast by naming the temblor that spawned it the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (Higashi Nihon Dai-Shinsai).

“I am confident that we will overcome the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake . . . and re-create a wonderful Japan,” he said.

“And I promise that I myself and my Cabinet will stand at the forefront and devote all of our energy” to rebuilding it.

To prepare for the restoration, Kan said he will freeze part of the fiscal 2011 budget, which cleared the Diet Tuesday, and transfer the money to a supplementary budget.

“I want to prepare the first extra budget and use it to get rid of debris, build temporary housing, secure jobs and restore industry,” Kan said, adding the government will submit the first legislation for the plan this month.

He also said a special panel of experts and local leaders will be set up by April 11 to “draft a blueprint” for rebuilding damaged areas.

As for Fukushima No. 1, Kan said that once the situation is stabilized, he intends to look at various aspects of the crisis, including how to balance national electricity supplies in the future. Kan did not, however, clarify his position on whether Japan should reduce its heavy reliance on nuclear power.

“Of course solar, wind and biomass energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide are very important,” Kan said. “But in a sense, I think that nuclear power should also get credit from the viewpoint of not emitting carbon dioxide and that naturally, we need to continue thinking about how to balance supply.”

Campbell impressed

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Kurt Campbell, the senior U.S. State Department official in charge of East Asia, voiced high praise Thursday for the way Japan is coping with the March 11 devastation.

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