US energy chief reassures Japan of commitment to environment

The U.S. energy secretary reassured Japan on Monday that his country is committed to tackling environmental issues and to promoting clean energy even though the country is leaving the Paris climate accord.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told his Japanese counterpart, Hiroshige Seko, during their talks in Tokyo that the U.S. commitment to environment is unchanged, according to Kazushige Tanaka, a Japanese industry ministry official who was at the talks.

Perry's comment comes days after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris accord, a decision that has triggered international disappointment and criticism.

Perry said America, as it has led the effort in tackling carbon reduction and clean coal technology, will continue to be a leader in developing clean energy and its technology.

He agreed with Seko on Japan-U.S. cooperation in clean energy and environment, as well as other areas including nuclear energy, cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Japan had little previous experience of decommissioning a nuclear plant, even one that operated normally, so the country has been learning from the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. Its damaged reactor was mothballed but the other reactor is still operating.

Perry on Sunday had inspected the Fukushima nuclear plant and offered continuing U.S. support for decommissioning the plant, which is expected to take decades.

"We offer continued support, expertise, companies that have history of dealing with cleanups and technology available as well as the department of energy," he said. "I want to bring the strong support of the current administration to Japan and any assistance that we can, as we go forward in the cleanup and the decommissioning of those facilities."