TOKYO, June 15 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Friday that the country should aim to reduce reliance on nuclear power as much as possible in the medium and longer term, but stopped short of outlining a strategy for exiting atomic energy by mid-century.

Noda has previously stated that nuclear power remains an important source of energy now for the resource-strapped country, not least because of worries from businesses about higher electricity costs if atomic energy is spurned in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, the world's worst atomic accident in 25 years.

"With regard to future energy policy, we must aim at reducing reliance on nuclear power as much as possible in the medium and long-term," Noda said in written replies to interview questions by Reuters.

But he said it was difficult to say now how much nuclear power should account for in Japan's energy mix or whether it needed a road map to exit atomic power by 2050 ahead of a public debate on options now being considered by the government. (reporting by Linda Sieg and Yoko Kubota; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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