Japan's newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his country seeks to construct new nuclear reactors that would be different from those crippled following last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
"New reactors will be totally different from the ones built 40 years ago -- those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that caused the crisis," Abe said in the interview with Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) television on Sunday.
"We will be building them while earning understanding of the public as to how different they are," he added.
Abe’s remarks come a day after he visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant when he described the clean-up process at the power plant an "unprecedented challenge in human history".
On Wednesday, the Japanese Lower House of parliament elected Abe, the leader of pro-business Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), as the country’s new prime minister.
Abe’s government had earlier said it would examine a pledge made by the previous administration to rid the country of nuclear power by 2040 and would give the go-ahead to the resumption of generation at any nuclear power plants “if they are confirmed safe.”
Japan’s atomic crisis broke out on March 11, 2011 after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami hit the country’s northeast coast, where the Fukushima nuclear power plant is located.
The quake triggered the nuclear disaster by knocking out power to cooling systems and resulting to meltdowns and the release of radioactive materials at the plant.
Before the disaster, the nuclear reactors provided 30 percent of the country’s electricity and the government had planned to increase the share to more than 50 percent by 2030.
All of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were shut down after the accident. Most of the reactors have been off-lined for regularly scheduled maintenance, with no specific restart plans.
Most people do not want the reactors to be restarted, saying reactivating the reactors before the completion of the probe into the Fukushima triple-meltdown disaster would pose too much of a risk