News Watch

‘No Nukes No Fossil’ Rally held in Tokyo

A rally and demonstration demanding an end to nuclear and fossil fuel and a transition to 100% renewable energy and a just society was held on 18 September in the Shibuya district of central Tokyo. Approximately 8,000 people attended, including many young people. The organizers of the rally were Watashi no Mirai (My Future), Fridays for Future Tokyo and Sayonara Nukes. WATASHI NO MIRAI’s Yamamoto Daiki (university student) made this comment:

“For the approximately 8,000 people who gathered in Yoyogi in the sweltering heat, today’s live performances on stage, the talk sessions and the groups giving information in the booths, was an opportunity to reconsider how to face the issues of nuclear power plants and the climate crisis, and to deepen our resolve to take the next action. We would like to continue to stand in solidarity with people of all ages who are tackling a wide range of social issues.”

Contaminated Water Discharged into Ocean despite Opposition

The release of water contaminated as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident into the ocean commenced on August 24 in the face of opposition. See CNIC Statement: We strongly protest the government’s decision to begin the release of contaminated water into the ocean.


Movement to Construct Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facilities in Kaminoseki

On August 2, Chugoku Electric Power Co. asked Kaminoseki Town, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to investigate the possibility of constructing interim storage facilities for spent fuel at the site of the planned Kaminoseki nuclear power plant (NPP). They said, however, “Considering the scale of the facilities and economic factors, we have determined that it would be difficult to build and operate the facilities on our own, so on the condition of joint development with Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kanden), who needs interim storage facilities just as we do, we will be proceeding with investigations and discussions in the future.” Kanden has promised Fukui Prefecture that it will halt operations at Takahama Units 1 and 2 and Mihama Unit 3, which have all been operating in excess of 40 years, if no interim storage facility candidate sites outside of Fukui Prefecture can be confirmed this year. It is Kanden that wants interim storage facilities, not Chugoku Electric Power.

There was an extraordinary town council session on August 18, and the minute it ended the mayor sent a fax in response to Chugoku Electric Power, saying the pros and cons had been heard and the proposal accepted. Since this proposal was made in response to a request the town’s mayor had originally made for a new community revitalization plan that would enable financial resources to be secured for the town’s development, there was no reason for them to turn it down. From the point of view of appeasing the faction within the town promoting plans for the Kaminoseki NPP, which have been dogged with uncertainty, this provides a favor to Kanden, creating a debt of gratitude, and it also benefits Chugoku Electric Power.

In the final analysis, however, this is just a makeshift maneuver. For both electric power companies and for the town, this is a step forward, but problems remain to be solved.


Chubu Electric Power Also Investing in NuScale Power

Chubu Electric Power Co. decided on September 7 to invest in NuScale Power Corp., a company developing small modular reactors (SMRs) in the US, via its US subsidiary. It announced that it had signed an agreement on equity transfer of the portion of its shares held by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

JGC Holdings Corp. announced in April 2021 that USD 40 million had been invested by Japanese enterprises and financial institutions in NuScale Power via Japan NuScale Innovation, LLC.  JGC Corp. plans to manufacture items such as containment vessels. In May, IHI Corp. announced that it was investing about USD 80 million and JBIC announced in 2022 that it would be investing about USD 1.1 million.


JAEA and NNL Sign Memoranda on HGTR Technology

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) of the UK signed a memorandum of cooperation on high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) technology and a memorandum of implementation on the basic design of an HTGR demonstration program for the UK. The HTGR demonstration reactor program the UK has been promoting since September 2022 is going forward in three phases: Phase A, prior conceptual consideration (completed in February 2023), Phase B, basic design (to be completed in 2025) and Phase C, licensing and construction (with operation to commence in the early 2030s). The NNL team, in which JAEA is participating, was selected to be the operator and implemented Phase A on September 2, 2022. Then, on July 18, 2023, it was selected by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) of the UK to be the Phase B operator. Thus it came to be that JAEA and NNL signed the two memoranda on September 6 in London in the presence of Nishimura Yasutoshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Claire Coutinho, Secretary of State at DESNZ.

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