CNIC Statement: Withdraw the anachronistic Action Plan to Resuscitate Nuclear Power

30 November 2022

At the meeting of the Nuclear Energy Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy on November 28, the secretariat, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), presented a draft “Action Plan for the Direction and Realization of Future Nuclear Energy Policy.”

The Action Plan represents a stunning and major shift in nuclear power policy that deviates from even the notorious Strategic Energy Plan, and includes a concerted effort to restart nuclear reactors, making maximum use of existing reactors, developing and constructing next-generation innovative reactors, accelerating back-end processes, maintaining and strengthening supply chains, and contributing to the resolution of common international issues. The hollow-sounding “safety first” cliché is chilling.

Will the Nuclear Regulation Agency go along with this all-out effort to restart reactors? Whose collective effort is envisaged for the promotion of reactor restarts? To make maximum use of existing reactors, it is said that a mechanism for handling operating periods should be developed. This is a deceitful improvisation that has the intention of making it look as if the current rules would form the basis for determining operating period limits in order to conceal their outright removal. In the first place, this is a baseless trampling of the spirit of the current law, which makes reactor operation exceeding 40 years to be the exception rather than the rule. Wherever you look around the world, no reactors anywhere have been operated for 60 years.

Regarding the next-generation innovative reactors, the Action Plan also attempts to deceive by stating, “Firstly, reactors slated for decommissioning will be the targets for reactor rebuilding.” Do they seriously think that people will believe that replacement will not mean the construction of new reactors? Coming to the promotion of the nuclear fuel cycle, the Action Plan trumpets incorrigibly “the establishment of a subsidy system for local governments that promote MOX fuel reactors.” How many times are they going to repeat this “establishment”? Even though the construction of the still non-operational Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant was totally reliant on government orders and the entire nuclear industry, the Action Plan now says that the technology for reprocessing spent MOX fuel will be established in the late 2030s? Is this some kind of a joke?

Whether it’s measures to deal with spent fuel or anything else, it’s not hard to see that we’ll end up with nothing but a bunch of slogans.

We strongly urge METI and the Natural Resources and Energy Agency to withdraw this absurdly anachronistic Action Plan rather than bring it before the GX conference.

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