“We’re aiming to become a society that is not dependent on nuclear power generation,” the prime minister told a House of Representatives Budget Committee session. “That means deciding what to do about reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, including at Monju. We need to aim for planned movements by stages in this direction.”
Monju is the cornerstone of Japan’s plans to reuse and eventually produce nuclear fuel, but it has a history of trouble and has generated only a single hour of electricity despite first achieving criticality in 1994. Fast-breeder reactors globally have been beset by technical problems and many countries have abandoned programs to develop them.
Kan added that disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel, most of which is currently stored in each of Japan’s reactors, remains an issue.
“We want to manage these over the long-term and deal with this extremely serious issue in a way that will not leave ill-effects for future generations,” Kan said. “I am aware that this is an essential issue when you have nuclear power generation.”
The prime minister also dismissed suggestions of a secret joint Japan-U.S. project to build a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Mongolia.
“At this point in time our country has no plans to store or dispose of spent nuclear fuel or highly radioactive materials in a foreign country,” he said, responding to a question from Social Democratic Party member Ryoichi Hattori.