Japan’s Separated Plutonium Inventory (as of the end of 1999) Nuke Info Tokyo No. 80

The report made public in August 2000 shows that Japan’s plutonium stockpile has increased sharply to 32.9 tons, 5.3 tons of which is domestically stored. Fortunately, no plutonium was extracted in reprocessing plants in Japan because the one and only Tokai Reprocessing Plant had not been operating since it closed down after the fire and explosion in 1997. As for fuel demand, there was no movement because Monju Fast Breeder Reactor has not operated since the accident in 1995.

This steep rise mainly resulted from the increase of plutonium extracted in foreign countries. The sum of plutonium stockpiles in France and England amounted to 27.6 tons. Because of the delay in reprocessing in England, the increase was not as high as expected. But despite that, there was an increase of 3.2 tons compared to last year. The plan is to manufacture MOX fuel with the extracted plutonium and transport it to Japan to use in light water reactors, but the BNFL MOX data fabrication scandal has seriously delayed the beginning of this plan and it is unrealistic to think that it will progress accordingly.

Looking at the actual demand for plutonium, anyone can see that there is no need to increase the plutonium stockpile anymore. If Tokai Reprocessing Plant re-starts its operation as planned, the domestic plutonium stockpile will unnecessarily increase, triggering serious concerns inside and outside Japan. The most important thing is to immobilize the plutonium that has already been extracted, and prevent any further extraction.

By Hideyuki Ban

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