Since then, the newsletter has been produced every two months for the past 17 years, this one being the 100th edition.
The Chernobyl accident in 1986 showed clearly how radiation can spread far beyond national borders causing calamities on a huge scale. At the time, Japan's nuclear industry was trying to enter the international nuclear marketplace and export nuclear technology to China and other Asian countries. This was despite the fact that Japan imported all its uranium and depended on France and the UK to extract plutonium from its spent fuel and then send it back to Japan. Unfortunately, the Japanese anti-nuclear movement wasn't putting enough effort into telling the world what was happening here nor into finding out what was happening overseas. One of the problems, of course, was the language barrier.
In the light of Chernobyl, the late Jinzaburo Takagi (at the time the Director of CNIC) recognized the urgent need to forge links with the international anti-nuclear movement. To that end the Nuke Info Publishing Committee was established and an English language newsletter was begun. The front page of the first issue contained a forward by Dr Takagi outlining the abovementioned circumstances. The other articles were as follows:
Japanese Nuclear Industry / Anti-Nuke Movement Face Turning Points
The Number of Workers Exposed to Radiation Increases
Anti Nuke Who's Who (Yukio Kawakami)
Japanese Government Continues to Promote Waste
Dumping Plan in the Pacific
Mitsubishi Makes Plans to Export Nuclear Technology to Indonesia
Mitsubishi's Radwaste Causes Serious Concern in Malaysia
Illegal Engineering at Takahama 1 Accused by Residents
JAEC Announced Long Term Plan
Public 'Over-Demand' Blamed for Massive Power Outage
No Lessons Learned from Chernobyl: Government Commission Report
Despite some defects in the English, this gives a good picture of the situation in Japan at the time - the nature of the Japanese nuclear industry, the attitude of the government, the reality of worker exposure and the state of the anti-nuclear movement. One might be tempted to say that not much has changed.
One thing that has not changed is that over the past 17 years pro-nuclear forces have continued to promote nuclear power all over the world, while anti-nuclear movements have done their utmost to stymie them. In Japan we have had some successes that we can celebrate. For example, the Monju Fast Breeder Reactor has been out of action since 1995 and a recent Nagoya High Court decision invalidated the construction approval; approval for the Maki Nuclear Power Plant was withdrawn; all 17 of Tokyo Electric Power Company's reactors were closed down for some time due to a series of scandals; and workers' compensation has been approved for worker radiation exposure.
On the other hand, failing to draw lessons from the JCO criticality accident, the government is forging ahead with its plans for the spent fuel reprocessing facility at Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture. It is hoping to implement its pluthermal plan in an attempt to find a way out of the current impasse where it has over 38 tons of plutonium on its hands, but its arguments are unpersuasive. This scheme has to be stopped.
One significant effort specifically designed to stop this particular scheme was the International MOX Assessment project, led by Dr Takagi, in recognition of which he, together with Research Sub-Director Mycle Schneider, received the Right Livelihood Award in 1997. Major international collaborative efforts such as this have their place, as does the more mundane task of maintaining the regular channels of information exchange, but no one is likely to challenge the assertion that international links remain as important as ever. Jinzaburo Takagi's analysis back in 1986 remains valid today.
The more optimistic predictions might suggest that nuclear energy is on the way out in Europe and America. In Asia, however, governments are enthusiastically preparing for an expansion in nuclear power. Meanwhile, even more so than in 1987, Japan's nuclear industry is eager to be a part of the action. In order to defeat these moves, we wish to continue to exchange information and to act in solidarity with our friends overseas.
These days the internet is an extremely effective tool for information exchange. This is a big change from 17 years ago. We are currently updating our English web site and hope to make better use of this tool in future. However, we believe that printed publications like this are still an important form of information exchange, so we intend to continue to print and distribute Nuke Info Tokyo in future.
On the occasion of this 100th issue we would like to make a couple of requests. Firstly, if you have any comments, criticisms, or requests regarding this newsletter, please feel free to let us know. Secondly, in order to further improve our information exchange, we ask you to promote Nuke Info Tokyo among your friends and contacts. In principle we charge a subscription fee for this newsletter, but in the case of information exchange it is free.
Yukio Yamaguchi (CNIC Co-director)
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