Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan told residents and activists near an ailing nuclear power plant in California on Tuesday how the Fukushima crisis altered his views on atomic power.

"Only a nuclear accident could displace 40 percent (of) the population. . . . I concluded that the only way to contain this risk was to create a society that does not rely on nuclear power," Kan told a symposium organized by Friends of the Earth, an environmental lobbying group.

In his first overseas public address on nuclear issues after stepping down as leader in September 2011, Kan stressed the importance of a global network for anti-nuclear activists and renewable energy advocates to share ideas and experiences.

Kan, who was prime minister in March 2011 when the earthquake-and-tsunami triggered Fukushima nuclear crisis began, also said he was ashamed of his onetime role as an apologist for exporting Japanese nuclear technology to developing nations.

Former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, retired nuclear industry executive Arnie Gunderson, and Peter Bradford, a law professor who worked for the NRC during the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, also offered their perspectives.

Jaczko said the accident showed that regulators' tendency to prepare for incidents based on the probability they would occur was insufficient to protect nuclear plants from major disasters.

Jackzo worried that four new U.S. reactors being built, in Georgia and South Carolina, will be started up before the NRC fully implements regulatory changes prompted by the Fukushima crisis.

San Diego County is home to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a two-reactor plant that has been offline since early 2012 when one of its new steam generators manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. sprang a leak.