Indonesia leader in Japan sceptical of nuclear power

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on a visit to disaster-hit Japan Friday voiced reservations about plans to build a nuclear power plant in his country, media reports said.

Yudhoyono also expressed sympathy with Japan, pointing out that both island nations, located on the seismically active Pacific Rim of Fire, had recently suffered devastating earthquakes and deadly tsunamis.

Indonesia has had plans to build its first atomic plant to go into operation in about a decade to help it meet rising energy demand fuelled by high economic growth in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

However, in separate interviews with Japanese news agencies, Yudhoyono suggested that Indonesia would not move towards nuclear power under his second term, which runs until 2014, Kyodo News agency said.

"If we could build energy sources other than a nuclear energy plant, we will choose those kinds of energy sources," he was quoted as saying by Kyodo, adding that atomic power is "very much debatable".

Speaking with Jiji Press about Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, he said: "We can never say that the same thing won't happen in Indonesia, which is prone to earthquakes.

"We'd better explore ways to use other energy sources before building nuclear power plants."

He also told Kyodo that Indonesia was willing to consider alternative energies such as geothermal, solar and hydroelectric power, while moving to limit the use of oil and coal in the long run.

In deciding on whether to go nuclear, his government would consider all factors, including the degree of public support.

In an earlier speech in Tokyo, Yudhoyono spoke of the way his country, having been hardest hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami, shared Japan's pain after its worst post-war catastrophe on March 11.

"We in Indonesia know exactly how you feel," Yudhoyono said in a speech at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

"The pain, the emotional pain, will be with us for quite some time. Feelings of sorrow, sadness and even helplessness will overwhelm you. Give yourself a moment to cry," the president said in his speech.

Yudhoyono was Saturday due to visit disaster areas hit by the quake and tsunami that left more than 23,000 people dead or missing.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko thanked the Indonesian president for his country sending rescue workers and aid after the disaster.

The president said "the Indonesian people and the government still have gratitude for assistance from Japan" during the 2004 tsunami. "I am convinced that the Japanese people will definitely recover from the disaster."

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