TOKYO – Long dependent on domestic appetite, Japan’s nuclear technology companies are increasingly looking to overseas markets, hopeful that foreign governments trust their reliability and safety claims in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Despite public criticism, new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has so far answered the conglomerates’ call for support as they try to strike deals with countries such as Vietnam, Jordan and Lithuania. Noda met last month with Vietnamese leader Nguyen Tan Dung to reaffirm a $13 billion deal in which Japan will build two plants for the energy-hungry nation, even extending low-interest loans for the purchase.

By questioning its own reliance on nuclear power while endorsing its nuclear export efforts, Japan, with 54 reactors ringing the country, finds itself pulled by contradictory claims. A majority of Japanese say nuclear power is no longer safe. But the government says the nation’s technology remains the world’s safest — or at least will be, as the country studies the Fukushima disaster, in which three meltdowns forced displacement of some 100,000 residents.

But the Japanese government’s stance also reinforces the powerful role of industrial heavyweights — particularly Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — whose technology can add billions to a sputtering economy.

Though Japan has yet to con- clude its government investigation into the Fukushima accident, those conglomerates are racing to finalize deals by highlighting safety changes they’ve already made.

Only Toshiba and Hitachi had a hand in building the Fukushima reactors, but for all three manufacturers the recent months have served as a gauge for global confidence in Japanese technology. Hitachi executives say they lost several deals in the wake of Fukushima. And Toshiba, along with its partner, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., pulled out of the bidding for a deal in Turkey.

Asian and Middle Eastern countries still have plans for major nuclear projects; China alone has some 26 reactors under construction.