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ATOMS in JAPAN

8 August, 2019

JAERO President Masumoto Reports to JAEC on Activities and Accumulation of Knowhow in the 50 Years since Establishment

At a regular meeting of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) on July 23, President Teruaki Masumoto of the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization (JAERO) reported on his organization’s recent activities.

JAERO was established exactly half a century ago, in July 1969, for the purpose of disseminating information on the uses of nuclear energy and radiation to the general public. Looking back at the fifty-year history of the organization, the president said that significant knowhow had been accumulated during that time.

Masumoto then went on to explain JAERO’s two pillars of activities, namely, providing information and conducting public-opinion surveys. As for the first, he said that the aim was to share accurate information and understanding on nuclear power, energy and radiation through dialogues with people in all walks of life. He also emphasized the steady continuation of JAERO’s unique involvement with school education, as well as its affirmatively engaging the press.

In FY18 (April 2018 to March 2019), educational support and cooperation activities, whereby experts are sent to junior and senior high schools nationwide–not only to deliver basic information but also to provide hands-on experiences in the realm of radiation measurement and the like–were carried out at 164 schools throughout Japan for a total of 10,392 students. More than ninety percent of the participants called the experiential portions especially valuable.

Programs for the press that year, wherein experts and specialist were invited for Q&A on specific topics, took up subjects ranging from technological development efforts toward removal of fuel debris at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, to the current state of energy and nuclear power policies around the world, as well as the stability of electricity supplies in light of a recent major power failure in Hokkaido.

In its dissemination of information to the public, the organization emphasizes the production of publications and materials for PR activities. For example, the total number of visitors to the information website Ene Hyakka (“Energy Encyclopedia”), which deals with general information on energy, nuclear power and radiation, had reached more than 470,000 by FY18. Conspicuously, most accessed the section entitled “Charts,” a collection of graphs and data related to energy supply and demand. President Masumoto said that the information “seemed to be used at various lectures and study meetings,” adding that “all the more because of that, it is very important to update it accurately and promptly.”

JAERO’s monthly magazine, “Genshiryoky Bunka (“Nuclear Culture”)–published since the inception of JAERO–will mark its 600th issue this coming October.

President Masumoto also noted the results of an opinion poll conducted in FY18 suggesting that interest in energy issues is slight, while interest in global warming is high.

In a session to exchange opinions with JAEC commissioners, the JAERO president said that capitalizing on the “axis of popular interest” would be the challenge moving forward. Given concerns about recent global changes and increased natural disasters, he talked about the need to consider sending weather forecasters as lecturers, and linkages to measures to prevent disasters.

At the session, JAEC Chairman Yoshiaki Oka stressed the usefulness of the “Energy Encyclopedia,” citing his experience teaching in higher education.

JAERO has also produced a publication for the genrral public entitled “2018 General Pamphlet on Nuclear Energy,” which is now available on its website. There was some discussion about the relationship between providing information in these ways and sites being operated by other organizations.

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