Following a visit to the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan's newly instated prime minister said he may support the construction of new reactors and remains committed to reviewing his predecessor's goal to phase out nuclear power.

Recent developments related to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. reactors blacked out in 2011 include:

Abe Promises Rethink of Nuclear Power Phase Out

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at Fukushima Daiichi. Source: TEPCOJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donned protective gear and took a bus tour at Fukushima Daiichi Saturday, encouraging plant workers and then promptly reinforcing his earlier promise to reexamine the country's phase out of nuclear power. In statements to the press, he promised to reconsider a decision by the previous government to retire all reactors by 2040 and stop building replacements. Instead, Abe said he favors an energy policy developed over the next decade to find the most appropriate mix of power generation for the country, the Asahi Shimbun and other outlets reported.

In a television interview the next day, he also indicated he is willing to consider the construction of new reactors in Japan. Kyodo reported he told a TV interviewer that today's reactor designs are completely different from the aging boiling water reactors at Fukushima, and that new units would be built with the consent of the public.

Some Nuclear Plant Neighbors Declining Payments in Protest

Government data gathered in a recent Asahi Shimbun report showed that nearly twice as many people in 2011 refused to accept the yearly payments offered to those who live near nuclear plants in Japan compared to the year before. In the early 1980s, the government approved a benefit scheme wherein money raised from a tax on electric bills is paid to people who live near reactors. In 2011, those individual payments ranged from $25 to $412. The vast majority of these households – more than 1 million in total – continued to accept the payments in 2011. While among 14 prefectures where data was available, the Asahi reported Wednesday that 171 households declined the payments compared to 94 the previous year. In Fukushima Prefecture, seven municipalities declined to distribute the benefits after the accidents. Within the four that did, 46 households declined the money, compared to 28 across the prefecture in 2010.