TOKYO, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he wants to restart nuclear reactors by next summer because a power shortage would hurt the economy.
Noda had earlier said he would permit the reactors to be brought back online if tests confirm their safety, The Asahi Shimbun reported.
But in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, he said, "From next spring, through the summer, we must bring them back up as best as we can because if we have a power shortage, it will drag down Japan's overall economy."
It marked the first time Noda has given a specific timetable for restarting reactors, the Shimbun said.
A March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the northeast that killed thousands of people heavily damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, raising questions about the future of Japan's nuclear power industry.
Noda said the country would have enough power for the winter.
While he wants to restart reactors, Noda reaffirmed he hopes to reduce Japan's reliance on nuclear power, as he said this month in his first speech to Parliament as prime minister.
"There is a national consensus on a phase-out from dependence on nuclear power," Noda told the Journal. "I want to create a society that is as little dependent as possible on nuclear power."