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An unacceptable franco-japanese agreement

Source : Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire


Press Release - May 2nd 2014

Shinzo Abe’s visit to France: the Network "Sortir du Nucléaire" denounces a draft agreement that has scandalous repercussions for the French and for the Japanese.

France is putting pressure on Japan to restart a disastrous fast breeder reactor in order to test fuel for the Astrid reactor!


According to Yomiori Shimbun, France has asked Japan to revive the disastrous Monju fast breeder reactor in order to be able to test the fuel for Astrid, the prototype reactor developed by the CEA! This project will be formally recognised at a summit meeting on May 5, when Prime Minister Abe is visiting France. The Network "Sortir du Nucléaire” denounces this draft agreement as outrageous both for the French and for the Japanese and calls on parliamentarians to oppose its signature.

The Japanese press reveals an imminent French-Japanese nuclear agreement


According to the daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to France will lead the way to the signing on Monday May 5 of research agreements into so-called "fourth generation" nuclear production. As part of this research, France would call upon Japan to use the Monju fast breeder reactor, which has been shut down for nearly 4 years, in order to test the plutonium fuel for the prototype reactor Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration).


According to the newspaper, in response to repeated requests from France, the Japanese government intends to accelerate the programme of reforms at the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that the Monju reactor passes the required safety tests for starting up again.


A scandalous agreement for both the French and the Japanese


If this agreement is actually signed, it will allow the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (Atomic Energy Commission) to move several steps further towards the realisation of the Astrid project, presenting the French once again with a “fait accompli”. [1] Without any consultation and without even any discussion during debates about energy transition, the nuclear industry will have introduced through the back door the development of a dangerous, disastrous and exorbitantly expensive technology.

This agreement would be equally disastrous for the Japanese, victims of one nuclear accident, who will have imposed on them, in spite of their opposition, the starting up of a reactor known for its many accidents and long term breakdowns. To add insult to injury, the agreement is due to be signed just weeks after suspicions were raised that the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency falsified inspection reports on Monju [2]. For both the French and Japanese leaders, satisfying the desires of the nuclear industry appears to be more important than protecting the population [3]!


Fast breeders - a technology that should be abandoned urgently!


The fast breeder reactor, using plutonium and sodium, is an inherently dangerous technology. France and Japan are among the last countries in the world to continue down this cul-de-sac, even though the technology has proved to be catastrophic.


The Monju fast breeder reactor came online in 1995 and was shut down in the same year following a sodium leak that triggered a major fire. It was started up again in May 2010 only to be shut down in August of the same year after a new problem was discovered. It produced electricity for one hour. It is situated on an active seismic fault [4], and was also hit by a typhoon in September 2013 that put its data transfer system out of action [5]. In May 2013, the Japanese nuclear safety authority had even prohibited it from ever being started up again.

As for Astrid, the so-called "fourth generation" reactor is simply a new version of the disastrous Superphénix reactor. Over a period of twelve years, this reactor operated for less than 200 days at full power and in the end will have cost 12 billion euros. At a time when the French government is imposing austerity measures, it is unacceptable that such costly, useless and absurd projects continue to receive a blank cheque.


What sense can there be in the legislation on energy transition if large scale projects are carried out in parallel without even being submitted to the vote by Deputies in Parliament? The Network “Sortir du Nucléaire” calls on French parliamentarians, who should be the first to be concerned with the choice of direction of French energy policy to oppose the signing of this unjust agreement and to prevent the pursuit of fast breeder technology, whether in France or in Japan.


To learn more about the Astrid reactor: www.sortirdunucleaire.org / Le- reactor -Astrid -tech



[1] Already in 2010, the “Grand Emprunt” (French government loan) had provided € 650 million for the Astrid project. In 2012, new partnerships were signed with Bouygues.

[2] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/11/national/falsified-inspections-suspected-at-monju-fast-breeder-reactor/#.U2DKscelAXw

[3] This case is reminiscent of the shipment of MOX fuel to Japan, two years after the accident, even though the plants for which it was intended were still shut down because of public opposition to their being restarted: http://www.sortirdunucleaire.org/areva-mox-japon

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/world/asia/18japan.html?pagewanted=1

[5] http://enenews.com/landslide-at-mox-fueled-japan-nuclear-plant-ap-emergency-data-transmission-from-monju-stops-as-typhoon-hits-kyodo-cant-access-site-due-to-mudslides-reactor-temperatures-unknown


Press Contacts:

Marc Saint Aroman - 05 61 35 11 06


To learn more about the Astrid reactor:

Monique Sené, the Group of Scientists for Information on Nuclear Energy:

01 60 10 03 49


Communications Officer:

Charlotte Mijeon: 06 64 66 01 23


This press release can be found on our website: http://www.sortirdunucleaire.org/accord-franco-japonais


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