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Japan gets cold feet on no-nukes policy proposal

Associated Press Modified: September 19, 2012 at 1:30 am •  Published: September 19, 2012

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Cabinet on Wednesday stopped short of committing to phase out nuclear power by 2040, backtracking from an advisory panel's recommendations in the face of opposition from pro-nuclear businesses and groups.

Ministers did not endorse the 20-page national energy policy that was released by the Cabinet advisory panel Friday, though they offered a more vague endorsement of its goals.

The advisory panel, responding to public demands for an end to nuclear power in Japan following last year's tsunami-triggered meltdowns, called on Japan to give up nuclear energy within three decades through greater reliance on renewable energy, more conservation and sustainable use of fossil fuels.

The Cabinet said only that it would take the policy document "into consideration" and would seek public support for the goal. But the public in this case includes not only the general public, which has come out strongly against nuclear power, but also the nuclear industry and other business interests, as well as communities near nuclear plants that rely on them economically.

National Policy Minister Motohisa Furukawa said the gist of Japan's energy policy remains to phase out nuclear power, though it would take time to work out the details. Furukawa vowed to push for green energy and to seek to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

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