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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 September 27 - October 3  > Japan-US civil nuclear agreement looks set for extension
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2017 September 27 - October 3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japan-US civil nuclear agreement looks set for extension

September 28, 2017
The 30-year Japan-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement, which expires in July 2018, will be extended automatically, Akahata on September 28 reported. This represents the Japanese government’s stance of adhering to the promotion of nuclear power generation even after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.

For Japan, the bilateral civil nuclear pact is a lifeline for the nuclear power industry since it came into force in 1988 as it enables Japan to import 73% of enriched uranium fuel for nuclear power plants from the United States.

Under the agreement, America allows Japan to carry out the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel to recover plutonium, which can be used for nuclear weapons, on the assumption that the two countries have established mutual relations through the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Japan currently possesses about 48 tons of plutonium, enough to make roughly 6,000 nuclear weapons. In addition, a plutonium reprocessing facility is under construction in Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture, the northernmost prefecture on mainland Japan. If the facility begins commercial operations, it will produce eight tons of plutonium annually.

The Japanese government launched the Monju project using a plutonium-fueled fast-breeder reactor decades ago. At the end of 2016, however, the government found the project to be unsuccessful and decided to decommission the reactor. Japan’s stockpile of plutonium will thus continue to increase.

When Washington and Tokyo confirm the automatic extension of the agreement, it is likely that the U.S. Congress may voice an objection due to concern over nuclear proliferation.
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