Power Line
The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan Vol.11
January 2001

Japan's New Long-Term Program for Nuclear Energy

ON NOVEMBER 24, 2000, Japan's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) concluded the latest proposal for the Long-Term Program for Research, Development and Utilization of Nuclear Energy (also known as the Long-Term Program). The revised plan establishes the issue of safety as paramount, while reaffirming the fact that nuclear power generation will continue to play a major role in the twenty-first century. It should be noted that, during the formulation of the Long-Term Program, the criticality accident occurred at the JCO Tokai Plant in Ibaraki Prefecture; despite this, however, the Program reconfirms the necessity of nuclear power in Japan.

The AEC has carried out its Long-Term Program since 1956; it has been revised seven times to date. On May 18, 1999, the AEC organized the Long-Term Planning Council in order to formulate the latest plan. The Council began by forming six subcommittees. Each of these subcommittees addressed specific issues, such as the General Public, Society and Nuclear Power; the Utilization of Radiation as a Contribution to People's Lives; and Future Prospects for Research and Development of FBR Cycle Technology. These subcommittees comprised 115 individuals: members included experts in the nuclear power industry, as well as those from the business and legal communities, the mass media, and local townships and cities which host nuclear facilities. The six groups met 57 times over an eighteen-month period.

Photo "Open Forum on Nuclear Policy"

Earlier Programs had addressed detailed plans pertaining to the development of nuclear facilities and technologies, such as plutonium use for power generation and the establishment of a nuclear fuel cycle. However, this latest Program establishes fundamental principles and advancement schemes for the coming century, including issues such as the utilization of nuclear power as an energy source, technological development, and the use of radiation. Public opinion on nuclear energy issues was sought through open forums held across Japan. Critics of nuclear power were invited to participate not only in the Council but also in these forums, giving voice to ordinary citizens so as to incorporate various opinions and concerns into the evolving Long-Term Program. The following statements have been excerpted from the newest Long-Term Program.