Japanese minister charts 'steady progress' after Fukushima

27 September 2016

In the five-and-a-half years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, "steady progress" is being made in the decommissioning process and contaminated water management at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Hirotaka Ishihara, state minister of the cabinet office of Japan, told the International Atomic Energy Agency's 60th General Conference yesterday. Decontamination and environmental remediation are "moving forward" and the evacuation zones are "growing smaller", Ishihara said.

Noting that in April this year, with support from the IAEA, Japan had organised the First International Forum on the Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant, Ishihara told delegates gathered in Vienna for the Agency's General Conference: "We will continue to move forward with the decommissioning and contaminated water management in a transparent way, visible to the world, and will also share with the international community the lessons learned from this accident."

He added: "We are also making ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of food produced in Japan. Recognizing that many countries have already lifted restrictions on food imports from Japan, we encourage the international community to implement import policies based on scientific evidence."

Nuclear energy is an important baseload power source in terms of stable supply, economic efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction, "as long as its safety is ensured", he said. "The government of Japan plans to restart nuclear reactors that satisfy the new regulatory requirements established after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, while working to achieve understanding with the host municipalities," he added.

Japan "firmly maintains the principle of not possessing plutonium without specific purposes", he stressed. "In this regard, Japan will steadily utilise its plutonium in light water reactors under vigorous IAEA safeguards, including unit 3 of the Ikata nuclear power plant, which was restarted in August. In accordance with this principle, Japan is making additional efforts to further increase transparency and confidence in its plutonium use, including measures such as the annual publication of The Status Report on Plutonium Management" and the May 2016 legislation aimed at reinforcing governance of reprocessing projects," he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News