NAGASAKI, Japan, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The mayor of Nagasaki, in ceremonies Thursday commemorating the 67th anniversary of the city's atomic bombing, urged the Japanese government to develop new energy sources in place of nuclear power.
The government should "present concrete measures to implement these policies," and to seek "a society free from the fear of radioactivity," said Mayor Tomihisa Taue, the Asahi Shimbun reports.
During last year's Nagasaki anniversary speech, in the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, Taue became the first Nagasaki mayor to speak out against nuclear power.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government would pursue a combination of energy sources.
"Under the basic principle of moving away from a dependence on nuclear energy, we will seek to establish a combination of energy sources that will bring peace of mind to the public in the mid- and long-term future," he said.
Separately, a group of 75 members from various parties of Japan's House of Representatives, called Zero Nuclear Power, had its first plenary meeting, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.
Topics of discussion included a proposal to decommission all nuclear reactors in Japan and ways in which to offer legal support to residents in areas where nuclear plants are located.
Last month Japan restarted the first nuclear reactor since the Fukushima disaster, at the Oi nuclear complex in Fukui Prefecture in western Japan. That was after the last of Japan's 54 reactors was shut down in May, leaving the country without a working nuclear plant for the first time in four decades.
Yoshihito Iwama, a spokesman for the Japanese Business Federation, says the business community supported the restart of nuclear reactors.
"If Japan decides to stop all nuclear power, we will not have a stable and inexpensive source of electricity. The cost of everything will go up by at least 20 percent. Our economy will suffer," he was quoted as saying by National Public Radio.
Still, thousands of Japanese have been gathering in Tokyo every Friday to protest the country's use of nuclear power, with at least 75,000 people attending a recent demonstration.
Noriyuki Shikata, a spokesman with the prime minister's office, acknowledged that it's "really tough" to balance the concerns of the public and the country's power needs, NPR reports, adding that it will take time to rebuild the people's trust.
"We need to step up our efforts to be able to explain to the public the challenges that we are facing, and also especially in terms of safety. We have to keep on working on engaging the public in this arena," Shikata said.
But he says the government has no immediate plans to restart another reactor.
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