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25 September, 2017

METI Minister Explains Fuel Cycle Promotion Policy to Aomori Governor

On September 19, Minister Hiroshige Seko of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) met with Aomori Prefecture's Governor Shingo Mimura at the prefectural office. There, he explained to him the national government's policy of promoting the nuclear fuel cycle (that is, reusing spent fuel from nuclear power).

It was the first time for the minister to visit Aomori Prefecture since assuming his current post. The prefecture is the site of integrated nuclear power plants and facilities for recycling nuclear fuel.

At the meeting, he emphasized the unchanging nature of the government’s basic policy of promoting the closed nuclear fuel cycle. Minister Seko reiterated the government’s promise to the prefecture not to build its facility there for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) stemming from nuclear power.

In response, Governor Mimura mentioned his stance regarding the national Strategic Energy Plan—for which deliberations toward revision have just begun—saying that he wanted the government to continue positioning nuclear power and the closed nuclear fuel cycle as “firm national strategies.”

The METI minister also met and exchanged views with the heads of four municipalities in the prefecture (including Mutsu City) hosting a facility for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. At a subsequent press conference, he said that the ministry had instructed JNFL to submit an “effective improvement scheme” for a series of problems occurring at the facility belonging to Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) in Rokkasho Village, the heart of Japan’s nuclear fuel-cycle effort.

One day after meeting with the governor, the minister also visited various nuclear facilities in the prefecture, such as the Ohma NPP (ABWR, 1383MWe), currently being constructed by the Electric Power Development Co. (EPDC, or J-Power) in Ohma Town, and JNFL’s Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant.

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