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Japan's new environment minister wants to scrap nuclear power

Japan's newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi is a rising political star and son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Japan's newly appointed environment minister has said he wants to "scrap" nuclear power plants, warning of the need to avoid a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The comments from Shinjiro Koizumi, a rising political star and son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, are his first on the controversial issue since he was named in a cabinet reshuffle Wednesday.

Speaking late Wednesday night, he appeared to echo his father's post-Fukushima anti-nuclear stance.

"I would like to think about how we can scrap it, not how to retain it," he told reporters when asked about the government's plans for nuclear power.

"We'll be finished if we let (a nuclear accident) occur twice in one country. We never know when we'll have an earthquake," he added, without specifying further.

The comments are not expected to have any immediate impact on the government's already-stated position of moving slowly away from dependence on nuclear energy, a task complicated by Japan's considerable reliance on coal.

A darling of the Japanese media, Shinjiro Koizumi is the third-youngest minister appointed to the cabinet in Japan since the end of World War II.

Despite intense media spotlight, he has been coy on expressing his views on controversial issues, including the question of nuclear power.

His father is known for having shifted his own stance on nuclear power dramatically since resigning from politics, to a position of strong opposition.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it wants to move away from nuclear energy, but it anticipates relying on the sector heavily for years to come, particularly as it works to meet its obligations under the Paris climate accord to reduce carbon emissions.

Its most recent plan envisages nuclear power supplying around 20-22 percent of energy needs for the country as late as 2030.