(Nikkei: December 1, 2015 – p. 4)
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) formulated on Nov. 30 a plan to review its “nuclear fuel cycle” policy for reusing spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants. One of the main points of the revised policy is to create a government-authorized entity to supervise nuclear fuel projects. METI will strengthen the government’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle so that stable fuel cycle projects can be continued even after full liberalization of the retail sale of electricity in spring of 2016.
METI presented its revised policy at an expert committee session of its Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy on Nov. 30. The ministry plans to formally adopt the revised policy after collecting views from the public and submit a bill revising the related laws to the regular Diet session next year.
Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL: Rokkasho-mura, Aomori Prefecture) is tasked with reprocessing projects. Plutonium and other materials are extracted at a nuclear reprocessing plant and then reprocessed at a separate plant as mixed-oxide fuel of uranium and plutonium (MOX) for use in nuclear reactors. There was concern that if electric power companies find funding difficult because of the full liberalization of the retail sale of electricity, they won’t be able to continue projects.
METI will create a government-authorized operator, which will have influence in drawing up projects and review so that projects will be consigned to JNFL. The ministry plans to legally require utility firms to pay the costs of reprocessing nuclear fuel and MOX fuel to JNFL. The ministry’s aim is to secure funds necessary for a series of cycle projects and continue stable projects.