Abe clarifies intention to promote nuclear energy generation

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clarified on Wednesday his intention to promote nuclear energy generation despite the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant in 2011, pledging to make efforts to enhance safety of nuclear power facilities.

"The tragedy that hit Fukushima has yet to end. I can't stand still when I think of the difficulties the victims have been facing," Abe said in a speech in London.

"But we should change the greatest crisis into an opportunity to reform the energy market," said Abe, who stopped by the City of London financial district after attending the Group of Eight summit that ended Tuesday.

"We will enhance the safety of nuclear power plants and continue to contribute to nuclear nonproliferation. Japan, which has led the world in it, will not choose a way to retreat from here," he added.

Abe also promised to drastically change Japan's taxation to rebuild businesses and beef up private-sector investment, aiming to achieve his goal of simultaneously conquering the country's chronic deflation and restoring its fiscal health, the worst among industrialized economies.

"We will make big changes to our tax system this autumn. By making use of tax incentives, we will encourage business restructuring," Abe said.

"In a bid to provide incentives for companies to take the risk of carrying out capital spending, we will also implement a tax cut for investment," he said.

Abe's remarks came as he struggles to maintain the optimism that has surrounded his economic policies dubbed "Abenomics," in the run-up to the election this summer of the House of Councillors, currently dominated by the opposition camp.

A lack of specific tax measures for the corporate sector in the government's latest economic growth strategy, released last week, triggered disappointment and a sell-off in Tokyo stocks, forcing Abe to create a second version of it later this year.

The nation's sixth premier in five years said his administration, formed on Dec. 26, will position the next three years as an "intensive reform period," indicating he is eager to stay in power for an extended period.

To attain reforms necessary to shore up the economy, "I want to lead the LDP to victory" in the upper house election, Abe said.

The growth strategy is the last of the three arrows of "Abenomics," along with large-scale public works projects and aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, which had driven up stocks amid expectations that the weaker yen would boost exports, a key engine of Japan's growth.

Abe added in the speech that under his leadership, Japan will establish special economic zones in the country, where deregulation can be prompted, with an eye to bolstering investment and attracting businesses and human resources from abroad to Japan.

"What is necessary for Japan's revitalization is a strong catalyst that will renovate old Japan and further strengthen new Japan. I hope foreign direct investment to Japan will become (the catalyst)," he said.

Abe's government said in the growth strategy that it will try to augment the total amount of business investment by 10 percent during the next three years to bring it up to around 70 trillion yen, equivalent to the level seen before the 2008 financial crisis.

It also aims to double direct investment to Japan from foreign firms to 35 trillion yen by 2020.