Power Line
The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan Vol.15
January 2002

Peaceful Utilization of Nuclear Energy

JAPAN HAS FEW NATURAL RESOURCES, and so strives to maintain its energy security by promoting the use of nuclear energy, particularly nuclear fuel recycling. However, the use of nuclear materials for weapons could have disastrous consequences, and Japan is firmly committed to ensuring that they are not diverted to non-peaceful purposes.

Japan has long pursued a fundamental national policy of utilizing nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the Atomic Energy Basic Law. The Japanese government and the electric power industry have taken and continue to take steps to promote understanding of this policy within the international community. In order to ensure that the atom is harnessed only for peaceful purposes, Japan cooperates fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in facilitating the application of safeguards at all Japanese nuclear facilities.

The Safeguard Program

Japan has a safeguards agreement with the IAEA in compliance with the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Under this agreement, all nuclear materials in all nuclear facilities, including power plants, uranium enrichment plants and spent fuel-reprocessing facilities, are subject to safeguards. In 1998, Japan also ratified the Additional Protocol with the IAEA, which gives the IAEA broader access to information about the Japanese nuclear program as well as enhanced inspection authority. In addition, Japan has bilateral nuclear agreements for the peaceful use of nuclear energy with the United States, Britain, France, China, Canada and Australia, wherein Japan has pledged to accept IAEA inspections, together with a range of other non-proliferation assurances and controls with respect to nuclear materials transferred from those countries.

In accordance with national laws, Japanese electric utilities submit reports on material accounting and safeguard activities to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and accept joint inspections by the IAEA and Japanese regulatory authorities to check the reports. By following the procedures illustrated here, inspections are conducted to ensure that nuclear material accounting is carried out properly and that nuclear materials are properly controlled by sealing and monitoring. By holding these inspections, the IAEA and Japanese regulatory authorities confirm that nuclear materials are not used for improper purposes. We estimate that approximately 20 percent to 30 percent of IAEA inspections are performed for Japan.

Japan is eager to promote and expand the use of nuclear energy through nuclear power generation, nuclear fuel transport and nuclear fuel recycling, while observing both international and domestic nuclear safeguards.

Flow of Inspections