Noda promises new energy policy soon

Sept. 13, 2011 at 11:52 PM
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TOKYO, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda promised a new energy policy to reduce the country's reliance on nuclear energy.

In his first speech to Parliament as prime minister, Noda said the basic energy policy would be ready by next summer, Asahi Shimbun reported. The extraordinary session of Parliament was convened Tuesday and is to last four days.

The Noda government is seeking to finance reconstruction in the country after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the northeast that killed thousands of people and caused damage to the already weak economy running into the billions of dollars. The quake heavily damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, raising questions about the future of nuclear power industry in the country.

"It is unproductive to perceive energy policy as a confrontation between those who call for a move away from nuclear energy and those who promote nuclear energy," Noda said.

The Wall Street Journal said Noda's comments differed from those of this predecessor Naoto Kan, who had wanted to end Japan's reliance on nuclear energy. Noda stressed the need for fiscal discipline as the quake disaster had driven the "crisis level for the nation's fiscal condition even higher," the Asahi Shimbun reported.

His government is expected to propose temporary tax increases, which could last 10 years, to finance earthquake reconstruction.

"We will consider a variety of choices in terms of the type of tax, the period of the temporary hike and the amount of revenues (that will accrue) for each fiscal year," Noda said.

He said the social security system needs to be reformed and government expenditures reduced.

The Journal report said Noda also warned: "We cannot continue to allow our debt to snowball."

Japan's national debt is a major challenge for the government as it has ballooned to twice the size of the country's gross domestic product.

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