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Son starts national energy initiative via The Japan Times online

Akita — Masayoshi Son, president of the Softbank Corp. telecommunications conglomerate, and governors from prefectures nationwide launched a council Wednesday aimed at reducing dependence on nuclear power by promoting renewable energy, such as building solar power plants on idle farmland.

Of the 47 prefectures, 36 have already signed up to join the alliance led by Son, including Fukushima, which is grappling with the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Also participating are Aichi, Shizuoka, Mie and Nagano, which recently lost power supply from the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which the government had halted due to its potential vulnerability to tsunami.

Osaka, which relies heavily on nuclear power, and Fukui, which hosts nuclear power plants, also joined the alliance.

The council’s first meeting Wednesday came after Son unveiled in May an ¥80 billion project to build about 10 large-scale solar power plants in Japan, offering to shoulder most of the construction costs.

He has said setting up solar panels on 20 percent of unused or abandoned farmland can have the generation capacity of about 50 gigawatts, equivalent to the output of about 50 nuclear reactors.

By aiming also to introduce other energy sources such as wind and geothermal power by 2020, Son envisions raising the share of renewable energy in Japan to about 20 percent of total electricity generation.

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