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PM vows nuclear-free future

world Updated: Aug 06, 2011 08:56 IST
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Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Saturday renewed his pledge to help make Japan nuclear-free as Hiroshima marked the 66th anniversary of the US atomic bombing amid the Fukushima crisis.

After the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered the nuclear accident that left radiation leaking into air, soil and sea, Kan said the country must reduce its reliance on atomic power with the goal of eventually becoming nuclear-free.

"The large-scale, long-running nuclear accident has triggered radiation leakage, causing serious concerns not only in Japan but also in the world," Kan, in a black suit and tie, said at a memorial ceremony in Hiroshima's Peace Park.

"I will reduce Japan's reliance on nuclear power, aiming at creating a society that will not rely on atomic power generation," he added.

Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui also called for the government to review the country's energy policy after the Fukushima accident, the world's worst since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

"The continuing radiation scare has made many people live in fear and undermined people's confidence in nuclear power," he said.

"The Japanese government must quickly review the energy policy... to regain people's understanding and trust," he said.

A city official said that some 50,000 people participated in the ceremony to remember the 1945 atomic bombing, which killed an estimated 140,000 people instantly or due to burns and radiation sickness soon after the blast.

Over 70,000 perished as a result of another US atomic attack on the port of Nagasaki three days later.

Saturday's ceremony was attended by representatives of more than 60 countries including the United States.

The government said on Thursday it would sack three top energy officials over their handling of the Fukushima atomic disaster and other scandals that have eroded public trust in the country's nuclear policy.