Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda could push for use of existing nuclear reactors in Japan for a longer period than advocated by outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Noda, who was elected Democratic Party of Japan leader on Monday, had advocated for use of nuclear power in the short term while reducing the country’s dependence in the medium and long term through increased renewable energy, Japanese news agency Jiji reported.

“I will set up a nuclear safety agency to consolidate the regulatory framework and regain public trust in atomic power generation,” Noda said in the policy statement on Aug. 27.

After a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 46-foot-high tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and caused the worst nuclear accident in 25 years this March, Prime Minister Naoto Kan was the first highly placed Japanese official to speak publicly in explicitly anti-nuclear terms, calling for Japan to end its reliance on nuclear power.

Kan, who resigned on Friday amid widespread criticism of his handling of the aftermath of the crisis, had called for a plan that envisioned a move away from nuclear power in three phases, the first starting in the next three years, the second by 2020, and the third by 2050.

Sources: POWERnews, Jiji, The Guardian