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METI panel calls for more government involvement in nuclear recycling operations

  • 2015-07-15 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: July 15, 2015 – p. 4)


 The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on July 14 began discussions to review the country’s nuclear fuel recycling program with the aim of stepping up the government’s involvement and ensuring that recycling operations are put in place in a stable fashion after the liberalization of the electricity retailing business in April. Discussions will include a review of the management system of Japan Nuclear Fuel, which operates the program. The ministry plans to come up with a conclusion by the end of the current fiscal year.


 The government regards nuclear recycling as a national policy because it enhances the effective use of resources and reduces the amount of radioactive nuclear waste. The Japan Atomic Power Company and nine utility firms that operate nuclear power plants hold a majority stake in Japan Nuclear Fuel and provide the funds necessary to recycle spent nuclear fuel.


 METI expressed concern in a meeting held the same day by its advisory committee for natural resources and energy, a panel that advises the minister, that the liberalization of the electricity retailing business may lead to intensified competition among utility firms and make it difficult to operate the nuclear recycling business. It also pointed out the difficulty of securing the necessary funds in a stable fashion.


 Members of the panel echoed that the government needs to become more involved in the nuclear recycling business to ensure its continuity. METI is considering using the “authorized corporation” system that allows the government to engage in the selection of personnel and drafting of business plans. The idea of turning Japan Nuclear Fuel into an authorized corporation or setting up such a new entity and outsourcing operations to Japan Nuclear Fuel will be discussed.


 The panel will also review the financing of Japan Nuclear Fuel. Currently, power utilities are providing money through an external fund management organization. A new method to be discussed will be designed to have them make direct contributions to Japan Nuclear Fuel at the time of power generation.

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