|Nuclear-free Japan not bad for economy: minister
Japan's industry minister stepped into the national debate on energy policy Tuesday, saying the nation could phase out nuclear power by 2030 without hurting the world's third-largest economy, Agence France-Presse reports.
"We can do it,'' Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo when asked about the impact of abandoning Japan's stable of nuclear reactors.
"I don't think the zero scenario is negative for Japan's economy. On the contrary, it can create growth as efforts to develop renewable energy and improve energy-efficiency could boost domestic demand,'' he added.
Tokyo ushered in new rules last month that require utilities to buy all electricity produced from renewable sources, including solar and wind power, at above-market rates for two decades, to stoke "green'' power investment.
Edano's comments come as the government worked to hammer out a new energy policy in the wake of last year's Fukushima atomic crisis, the worst in a generation that led to Japan switching off its 50 nuclear reactors.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has since authorised the re-start of two reactors amid looming power shortages, a deeply unpopular move that has sparked huge anti-nuclear protests in usually sedate Japan.
The move away from nuclear has meant a huge increase in Tokyo's energy bills as it turns to pricey fossil-fuel alternatives.