Citing safety concerns, Prime Minister Naoto Kan suggested freezing projects to build more than a dozen nuclear reactors by 2030, but he did not offer details on how to do it.
"We should not carry out the existing projects without thoroughly examining if (the planned reactors) are safe," Kan told a session of the Upper House Budget Committee on April 18.
He pointed to a need to review the planned projects by "going back to the drawing board" after the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is brought under control.
"We should not push (those projects) just because they are already set," he said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano backed Kan's proposal for a comprehensive review.
"If you propose a review by going back to the drawing board, it means just that," Edano said at a news conference.
Katsuya Okada, secretary-general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, also suggested that the party start discussing a review of the nation's nuclear power policy.
"The DPJ should consider establishing a framework to examine the nuclear policy in response to the prime minister's remarks," he said.
The government is set to build at least 14 nuclear reactors by 2030 under the nation's basic energy program that was approved by the Cabinet last June.
Japan currently has 54 commercial reactors.
But since the nuclear power plant crisis in Fukushima started, calls have emerged within the administration to take a cautious approach to the planned projects.
Kan had already made clear his intention to review the nuclear power policy when he met with Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii on March 31.
On the same day, Kan mentioned a need for holding fresh discussions on nuclear power generation and the energy policy--based on the examination of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant--at a news conference after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Tokyo.
But details of the studies proposed by Kan are far from clear.
The prime minister also told the committee meeting April 18 that the government should discuss whether storing spent fuel rods in reactors is appropriate when the country is not equipped with a solid system for disposing of them or how to deal with nuclear fuel recycling.
However, Kan failed to clarify exactly what part of the nuclear fuel recycling program he thinks the government needs to look at.
As for alternative energy sources, the prime minister only said that clean energy, excluding hydroelectric power, accounts for only a small percent of the country's total energy output.
Some staff members at the prime minister's office said Kan gave his remarks without thoroughly weighing the issues.
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