Japan to review strategies for energy, economy after quake

TOKYO, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - Japan is to launch a review of economic
and energy policies in the wake of the country's March 11 natural
disaster and the ongoing nuclear crisis it spawned, the cabinet said

The government agreed new guidelines on policy-setting that will mean
a reassessment of a growth strategy that has relied heavily on the
export of large-scale infrastructure systems, including nuclear power
plants and high speed rail.

Before the earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear power plant and
triggered a nuclear emergency, Japan -- battling to revive its economy
-- was hoping to sell a range of high-tech goods abroad, from atomic
technology and renewable energy systems to bullet trains.

But on Tuesday Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government said it "will
reexamine the strategy for overseas development of packaged
infrastructure systems," an official statement said.

It will also start "studying innovative energy and environmental
strategies which will meet the needs for safety, stable supply,
efficiency and environment," the statement said.

After the cabinet meeting, Koichiro Genba, a state minister for
national policy, said that the government "will focus on new energy
sources and energy saving technologies," according to the Mainichi

Japan also said it was delaying a decision on whether or not to join
negotiations for a US-backed trans-Pacific free trade pact.

The new policy guidelines included a plan to "consider comprehensively
when to make a decision" on whether to enter talks on joining the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

There is no reference to a specific timing in the new guideline,
according to a trade ministry official.

Gemba told reporters that strengthening agricultural exports would be
difficult near-term.

Kan has pushed for the country to join the pact despite vehement
opposition from farmers fearing cheaper imports, saying his government
aimed to make a final decision around June.

For now the TPP has just four signed-up countries -- Brunei, Chile,
Singapore and New Zealand -- but five others are in talks to join the
group: the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.