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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Radioactive waste and public trust

January 1, 2014

Japan to set new policy for nuclear waste disposal



The Japanese government plans to revise a basic policy for disposing of nuclear waste so that it can play a more active role in selecting disposal sites.

The industry ministry says starting early this year it will act on proposals submitted in November by a panel of experts.

The government plans to store highly-radioactive waste from nuclear power plants deep underground. It has been asking local governments to come up with candidate sites under a law that came into effect in 2000.

But no municipalities have stepped forward, and the government has still not secured any candidate sites.

Under a new policy, the government plans to draw up a list of locations that are deemed scientifically suitable for disposal, and ask relevant municipalities to agree to the project.

The government hopes to pave the way by the end of this year for finding sites for the disposal of nuclear waste.

But some experts are calling on the government to handle the issue more carefully. They say the public has not fully accepted the idea of storing radioactive waste underground, or in their localities.

They are concerned that trying to proceed with the new policy in a haphazard way could cause doubts among the public, and make the disposal issue harder to resolve.

Assistant Professor Kota Juraku of Tokyo Denki University, who was a member of the advisory panel, says he doesn't believe the public has reached full agreement on nuclear waste disposal.

He says it will take time for the government to regain public trust and support for the use of nuclear power.

Juraku calls on the government to listen closely to people's opinions and change the policy if necessary.

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