Japan should aspire to phase out nuclear power completely, its energy minister said, as the government struggled to persuade a wary public that it was safe to restart reactors after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Yukio Edano's comments could anger industries eager to see nuclear power bounce back.

Mr Edano said: "The government's policy is now to reduce reliance on nuclear power as low as possible."

He added that it should in future account for less than the third of national electricity it supplied before last year's Fukushima crisis. A massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the nuclear power complex north of Tokyo, causing meltdowns, sending radiation into the air and forcing 80,000 people to evacuate from the area.

Mr Edano said: "I'd like to see the reliance on nuclear cut to zero. I'd like to have a society work without nuclear as early as possible. But as to in reality how quickly it can be reduced or whether it will ultimately be reduced to zero ... I want to judge based on discussion by experts."

The government is crafting a new energy mix in light of Fukushima, with experts' options for atomic energy ranging from zero to 35% of electricity supply. In 2010, a government plan had called for boosting that to more than 50%.

All but one of Japan's 54 reactors are offline. None can be restarted until each clears a safety review.