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Suspension of Hitachi’s UK nuclear project spells trouble for Japan’s nuclear policy

Asahi carried on Saturday morning an article saying that the discontinuation of Hitachi’s nuclear power project in the UK points to the failure of the Abe administration’s policy to export nuclear technology since Japan has not been able to export a single plant. The paper further pointed out that domestic projects to build new nuclear plants, reactivate idle ones, and recycle nuclear fuel are also going nowhere, indicating that the Abe administration’s nuclear policy is in a serious bind. For instance, of the 54 nuclear reactors that were in operation before the Fukushima accident, only 9 have been reactivated under the new safety standards and 20 are set to be decommissioned or are being considered for decommissioning, rendering the government’s goal of having nuclear energy account for 20-22% of total electric power by FY2030 impossible to achieve. Asahi noted that the completion of the Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant has been postponed more than 20 times and its construction cost has expanded fourfold from original estimates. This has resulted in Japan’s stockpile of plutonium growing to an alarming 47 tons, causing serious concern in the U.S. and other countries.

 

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