Subject: [cwj 154] Japan to try to win public over to MOX nuclear power plans
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 15:15:23 -0700
Seq: 154

Japan to try to win public over to MOX nuclear power plans

TOKYO, May 28 (AFP) - 

The Japanese government and the world's largest private power company vowed
Monday to try to persuade the public of the need for nuclear power despite
voters' weekend rejection of a plan to use recycled nuclear fuel.

"(The plebiscite's) result came out as residents considered the necessity
and safety of nuclear power plants," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said
Monday during a budget committee session of the lower house of parliament. 

"Both the state and the operators need to make further efforts in seeking
the public's understanding on nuclear energy." 

The prime minister's comments came after residents of the tiny northern
Japanese village of Kariwamura rejected Tokyo Electric Power Co.'splan to
convert an existing nuclear reactor to a pluthermal (plutonium thermal)
plant on Sunday.

Pluthermal facilities are power plants that use plutonium-uranium mixed
oxide (MOX) fuel in light-water reactors. 

Of the 3,605 votes cast in Kariwamura, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest
of Tokyo, 1,925, or 53.6 percent, rejected the use of MOX fuel at TEPCO's
nearby Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Japanese newspapers said the vote dealt a severe blow to the government's
plan to promote the method of power generation as an answer to the needs of
the resource-poor nation, which relies on 51 nuclear reactors to provide
about one-third of its electricity.

Although the plebiscite is not legally binding, a spokesman for (TEPCO),
Takashi Kurita, said the company would not continue with its plan to
introduce MOX fuel against local residents' wishes.

But TEPCO would keep trying to win them round, he said.

"The decision (to accept such a plan) is up to the local community. But we
will continue to seek understanding about the necessity of pluthermal
facilities," he said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda gave no hint that the government would
be swayed from its nuclear power plans.

"Perhaps the government needed to explain more about the plan, although it
had taken considerable pains to do so," he told a regular press conference. 

"(Plans for new pluthermal plants) are a very important part of Japan's
energy policy. Considering the future energy needs, I feel we must seek
better understanding not just from the residents (in Kariwamura), but also
the entire Japanese public," Fukuda said.

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