On November 10, Minister Koichi Hagiuda of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry （METI）delivered a video greeting at an international conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency （IAEA）. In his talk, he spoke of the decade of progress since the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants （NPPs）.
The international hybrid-style conference was held from November 8 to 12 in Vienna. Looking back on actions taken by individual countries and international organizations in the decade following the accident, the participants examined the lessons learned and reviewed the courses of action toward further improvements to nuclear safety. Attending the conference were various government officials, including regulatory authorities, as well as power operators from Japan and other countries.
Minister Hagiuda first reiterated his recognition that Japan has a responsibility to share its experience and lessons learned from the accident with nuclear safety experts around the world. Referring to the handling of ALPS treated water—water purified of radioactive substances other than tritium to levels ...more
On October 29, against the backdrop of COP26 slated to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12, a report on the contribution of nuclear energy to achieving each of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was published by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc. (JAIF), the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), the European Atomic Forum (FORATOM), the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the UK Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), and the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
Nuclear technology can make various contributions in the areas of several of the SDGs, including no poverty, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and climate action.
Each nuclear association asserts that nuclear energy—currently available and one of the most efficient low-carbon power sources—can play many useful roles in building a clean, sustainable society.
On November 2, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attended the World Leaders Summit, a summit-level meeting at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. There, he announced that Japan was ready to make an additional contribution of up to USD10 billion over five years to support decarbonization in Asia.
The additional contribution relates to the Copenhagen Accord from COP15 in 2009, in which developed countries agreed to a goal of mobilizing jointly to raise—publicly and privately—USD100 billion per year by the year 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.
According to the OECD, the amount raised in 2019 was only USD79.6 billion, and, although no data has been released, achieving the goal by 2020 appears to be difficult. Taking the initiative in compensating for the shortfall, Japan announced that it would make an additional contribution of up to USD10 billion over the coming five years.
That amount is in addition to the USD60-billion pledge of over five years in public and private assistance that Japan had announced earlier at the G7 summit meeting in June, as well as in ...more
On October 26, Suttsu Town in Hokkaido held a mayoral election, the previous mayor’s term of office having expired.
Suttsu has been in the news as the site of an ongoing literature investigation by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO). The investigation represents the first stage in the process of determining the municipality’s suitability as the country’s final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste (HLW).
The literature investigation has been conducted in Suttsu since November 2020, along with that taking place in Kamoenai Village, also situated in Hokkaido, and both are the first of their kind to be implemented nationally. The Suttsu election was thus the first involving the head of a government of one of those municipalities since the investigations were launched.
The incumbent mayor, Haruo Kataoka, who had taken the initiative in applying for the investigation in the first place, was running for reelection to a sixth consecutive term. In the end, he won back his post with 1,135 votes, while his sole opponent, Yoshiki Echizenya, got nine hundred, with 84.07% of the voter turnout. The latter candidate, a former member of the town assembly, had called for the cancellation of the literatu...more
On October 22, the Japanese Cabinet approved the Sixth Strategic Energy Plan. The first of the major principles stated for implementing the energy policy was the maintenance of a stable energy supply, based on the major premise of safety. It is significant that the importance of S+3E was recognized in that way: namely, maintaining environmental suitability while realizing supplies of energy at low cost, through improved economic efficiency.
Nuclear power was recognized here, too, as an important base-load power source—one that is both low-carbon and quasi-domestic—contributing to the stability of the energy supply-demand structure over the long term, again premised on ensuring safety, as ever. The new plan stated that nuclear energy will be “utilized sustainably, on a necessary scale … in order to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050,” while efforts are made to obtain confidence from the public. That demonstrates that nuclear energy was also viewed as contributing to decarbonizing the energy system, and will continue to be used consistently in that process.
The plan also referred to (1) restarting nuclear power plants (NPPs), prioritizing safety, (2) promoting the nuclear fuel cycle policy, (3) addressing various iss...more
On October 17, Prime MinisterFumio Kishida visited Fukushima Prefecture, which had been struck by a massive earthquake and nuclear accident in March 2011. There, he toured decommissioning sites and elsewhere at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants（NPPs） belonging to the Tokyo Electric Power Co.（TEPCO）
Regarding the release into the sea of water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS-treated water), he told the press that seeing the overwhelming number of storage tanks, he keenly realized the importance of the issue, adding that action could not be postponed.
In April, the former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had decided to release the water into the sea. TEPCO plans to start the release in the spring of 2023.
Referring to opposition to the water release by various local parties, Prime Minister Kishida emphatically said, “Working together with the IAEA, the Japanese government will act transparently and explain the safety of the water from a scientific point of view. We will make full efforts to eliminate concerns.”
Positioning NPPs as an option to supply electri...more
On October 12, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) announced its platform for the general election slated to take place on October 31. It presents the direction for governmental policy, structured on eight pillars: (1) coronavirus measures, (2) “new capitalism,” (3) regional revitalization, (4) agriculture, forestry and fisheries, (5) economic security, (6) diplomacy and security, (7) education, and (8) constitutional revision.
According to an LDP pamphlet describing its 2021 policies, the party actively supports investments in clean energy in the areas of energy and environmental protection, specifically in the following fields: (1) energy conservation, (2) the restart of nuclear power plants (NPPs) whose safety has been confirmed, (3) the promotion of automotive motorization, (4) storage batteries, (5) hydrogen usage, (6) underground small modular reactors (SMRs), and (7) carbon recycling.
Regarding the development of nuclear fusion, meanwhile, the nation will aim for its commercialization as a key next-generation source of stable energy.
In the area of environmental protection in the electricity field, R&D will proceed on technology to recycle early-stage solar panels and lithium-ion batteries.
On October 4, Japan’s new Kishida administration was inaugurated. Appointed to lead the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was Koichi Hagiuda (aged 58, LDP, Lower House), who had held the top post at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for two years during the previous Abe and Suga administrations.
Meeting the press on October 5, the new METI minister emphasized the links between the administration of education and science, on the one hand, and of economy and industry, on the other, saying, “Developing human resources and teaching people to master technology results in industrial growth. Without innovation, no new industries emerge.”
Referring to MEXT’s successful Global and Innovation Gateway for All (GIGA) school program to promote information and communication technology (ICT) in education, Hagiuda expressed his hope that he would be able to “work seamlessly on the creation of an environment encouraging human investment and innovation in industry.”
Meanwhile, toward the restoration of the Japanese economy in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the new minister mention...more
The 65th Annual Regular Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held from September 20 through 24 in Vienna. On the first day—the opening day—Japan’s Minister of State for Science and Technology Shinji Inoue, under the Cabinet Office, delivered a video statement in the general debate. He did the same last year.
Minister Inoue began by praising IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi for his leadership in promoting the Agency’s professional activities despite the hardships of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Inoue also referred to Japan’s support for the Agency’s activities in the area of pandemic countermeasures.
Regarding decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) a decade after the giant earthquake and nuclear accident of March 2011, the minister noted that reviews by the IAEA would be carried out on safety, regulation and monitoring in the matter of water treated with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS: Advanced Liquid Processing System). Water meeting regulatory standards for substances other than tritium will be released into the sea.
Minister Inoue ...more
On September 3, the Japanese government released its new Strategic Energy Plan (Draft) and made it open for public comments. It is significant for identifying the principle of “S+3E”—safety, along with the conventional three E’s of energy security, economy and environmental protection—as the basic viewpoint and major premise of national energy policy.
The draft continues the important recognition demonstrated by previous plans that “nuclear power is an important base-load power source”—a low-carbon, quasi-domestic energy source—“contributing to the stability of the energy supply & demand structure in the long term, on the major premise of ensuring its safety.
In the recent plan, nuclear energy is expected to contribute to decarbonization in the energy system. In order to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050, nuclear energy will be utilized sustainably, on a “necessary scale,” with the major premise of its being safe, while efforts are made to obtain confidence from the public.
Nuclear energy is a reliable, established technology that is very robust in the context of supply stability, economic efficiency, and environmenta...more