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25 June, 2015

Meetings on Final HLW Disposal Held behind Closed Doors, With Many Municipalities Not Attending

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been holding meetings to explain to local municipal governments the process for selecting sites for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) from nuclear power plants, but a significant number of municipalities have withdrawn from participation. There have been instances when almost half of the expected municipal governments failed to attend.

The low participation rate seems to stem from the municipalities’ concern that they would be “opening themselves to misunderstanding” that they were positive about locating a disposal site.

Meanwhile, other have criticized the government’s attitude in staging the meetings behind closed doors, excluding the public.

Since the end of May, ANRE has been holding the meetings for local municipalities jointly with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) — the entity responsible for the disposal business — organizing the meetings through the prefectures. The meeting schedule and the lists of participating municipalities have not been released.

At the meetings, ANRE representatives typically explain the policy of the central government to actively propose “scientifically-promising sites,” with the participating municipalities then asking questions about specific schedules. However, no municipality has accepted a final disposal site or even expressed interest.

Hoping to complete the series of explanatory meetings in all prefectures by the end of the summer, ANRE is coordinating with the prefectures on the remaining schedule, which is not yet finalized.

The national government’s stance on HLW issues can be seen in the article entitled “Government Takes Initiative on Selecting HLW Geological Disposal Sites.”

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