CNIC Statement: Government Advisory Councils are not bodies that are supposed to be setting up the NUMO Literature Review Report

21  November 2023

According to an article in the Hokkaido Shimbun dated November 17, 2023, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has learned that the draft of a literature review report on Suttsu Town and Kamoenai Village, Hokkaido, to be prepared by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO), will be submitted in advance to a METI working group, believed to be the Geological Disposal Technical Working Group (Technical WG), for discussion during December. Furthermore, the draft report is also to be deliberated by the Subcommittee on Radioactive Waste (Waste Subcommittee), which is the upper organization of the Technical WG. The Waste Subcommittee should first discuss what the Technical Working Group is to examine and for what purpose, but this procedure, which is being carried out at the sole discretion of METI, is not required by law. Furthermore, the deliberations are not open to the public. We strongly protest against METI’s intentions, which are not transparent and lacking in fairness.

NUMO’s literature review report on the suitability of the two municipalities to host a radioactive waste repository, will be prepared in accordance with the “Evaluation Approach for the Literature Review Phase,” which was discussed by the Technical Working Group and the Waste Subcommittee and finalized by METI on November 2. After the report has been prepared and publicly viewed, NUMO will submit an application to METI for approval of an implementation plan to conduct an Overview Study, the next step to hosting the nuclear waste dump, and METI will make a final decision on whether to approve the report. In other words, METI must rigorously verify the validity of the contents of the report, and METI’s advisory councils play a substantial role in this process. To have these METI advisory councils check the draft of the report in advance, in private, and to have them assist in its completion completely undermines the independence of the Council. It would be like an examiner cooperating in the drafting of an answer, so to speak. CNIC demands that METI immediately withdraw its prior closed-door deliberation of the draft literature review report.

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