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Japanese P.M. meets with anti-nuke group

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TOKYO, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met for the first time Wednesday with protesters demanding the country abandon nuclear power.

About a dozen of the thousands of protesters who have been rallying outside the prime minister's office attended the 30-minute meeting, The New York Times reported. Others viewed it through a live video link.

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Japanese reactors were shut down temporarily after last year's Fukushima disaster. Noda angered the anti-nuclear movement by authorizing the restart of the Oi reactor in July and by calling the protesters' demands "loud noise."

Recent polls have showed, however, that public opinion is swinging away from nuclear power. The government released a poll Wednesday that showed 46.7 percent of Japanese want no nuclear power and another 15.4 percent say it should make up no more than 15 percent of the country's electricity supply.

Noda told the group in his office that an energy plan currently being drafted would be based on a wide range of opinion. He also said that in the future Japan will use less nuclear power.

"We will make diligent efforts to ensure safety," Noda said. "In the mid- to long term, we will reduce our dependence on our nuclear reactors."

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Protesters pointed out later that Noda did not bow and smile as the meeting ended.

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