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By Yoko Kubota
PARIS May 25 Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan
pledged on Wednesday to boost renewable energy to at least 20
percent of Japan's electricity supply in the 2020s, as he
reviews the role of atomic energy after the world's worst
nuclear disaster in 25 years.
Kan also assured world leaders the Japanese economy was
recovering strongly two and a half months after the massive
earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan and left some
25,000 people dead or missing.
Kan's call to shift to green energy reflects efforts to
ensure energy security and safety concerns after the crisis at
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was crippled by the
March 11 earthquake and tsunami. [ID:nL3E7GP1GG]
Kan has called for a review of Japan's energy policy that
aims to increase nuclear power to more than 50 percent of
electricity supply by 2030 from about 30 percent now.
"Regardless of what energy policy we will adopt, we must ask
ourselves the question whether it is appropriate for society to
increase energy consumption without any limits," Kan said in a
prepared speech to members of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development in Paris.
Before the quake, resource-scarce Japan has touted nuclear
power as a cost-effective way to reduce reliance on fossil fuel
and was the world's third-biggest user of nuclear power.
Various types of renewable energy account for about 10
percent of Japan's power demand, but it was not clear exactly
what type of renewable energy Kan was referring to.
Japan will also aim to cut solar power generation costs to
one-third of the current by 2020 and one-sixth by 2030, he said,
without mentioning details.
Solar power generation now costs about 50 yen per kilowatt
hour, while nuclear and thermal power costs about 5-13 yen per
kilowatt hour, government data showed.
He added that he aimed to place solar panels on some 10
million roofs in Japan by 2030.
In an earlier meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
Kan also assured France that Japan will continue to rely on
nuclear power after enhancing its safety, though he did not say
how big a role it would play in the country's energy balance.
The Japanese premier is set on Thursday to outline efforts
to bring the Fukushima nuclear plant under control, at the
beginning of the Group of Eight meeting at Deauville in France.
The world's third biggest economy stumbled into its second
recession in three years after the disaster, though most
economists see growth resuming in the second half of the year.
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Maria Golovnina)