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Reconstruction from quake top priority: Japan PM Noda
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 2, 2011

Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Friday said that reconstruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the resolution of the nuclear crisis were top priorities for his government.

"I believe reconstruction and rehabilitation from the disaster, like for the Kan government, continues to be the top priority for our cabinet," said Noda in his inaugural press conference as premier after naming his cabinet Friday.

Noda said his government's "biggest" duty was to speed up reconstruction efforts after his predecessor Naoto Kan was forced to resign amid fierce criticism of his administration's handling of the quake's aftermath.

He added: "The task we should cope with before anything else is to settle the nuclear accident as soon as possible."

Noda said that it would be "difficult" for new reactors to be constructed in Japan in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.

"There are plans to build 14 new reactors but in reality I believe it is difficult to build new reactors," he said.

He pledged to boost efforts to stabilise damaged reactors at the Fukushima plant and clean up radiation-contaminated areas.

"Without the rebirth of Fukushima, there will not be a rebirth of Japan," Noda said.

He added that nuclear reactors that are currently offline for inspections should be restarted once their safety is confirmed.

But he pledged to dismantle reactors that had reached the end of their designed lifespan.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami left more than 20,000 dead or missing, while sparking a crisis at the Fukushima plant, leading to reactor meltdowns and the release of radiation that has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands from the area.

On foreign policy, Noda pledged to work towards boosting ties with China and other neighbours.

"With China, my basic position is to develop the mutually beneficial and strategic relationship," he said, adding: "I will do the utmost to build good relationships also with other neighbouring countries, including South Korea and Russia."


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