Nuclear Imperatives and Public Trust: Dealing with Radioactive Waste

By Luther J. Carter | Go to book overview

11
Japan, the Pacific, and the Nuclear Allergy

Japan's ambitious nuclear program is still one of the world's largest, despite a slowdown in recent years.1 In the mid 1980s the Japanese nuclear industry fashioned elaborate but problematical plans to establish facilities for a complete nuclear fuel cycle on the French model. Included would be commercial-scale facilities for waste disposal, uranium enrichment, and fuel reprocessing to separate large amounts of plutonium for eventual use in light water reactors.

If this major new development in Japanese nuclear energy actually materializes it will be played out against a political background in which two important attitudes diverge dramatically. One is the nuclear allergy of the Japanese population, an allergy almost pervasively present as a legacy from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The other is the perception, strongly held by Japan's powerful governing bureaucracy and the long-dominant conservative Liberal Democratic party, that nuclear power is essential to this resource-poor nation's ability to reduce its heavy dependence on oil from the politically unstable Persian Gulf. Public opinion surveys over the past decade have shown that the greater part of the citizenry shares this perception, although since the Chernobyl accident there has been a growing uneasiness about the safety of nuclear power.2

____________________
1
The Japanese program is the fourth largest, after the U.S., French, and Soviet programs.
2
According to Atoms in Japan ( August 1986), English-language magazine of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun has reported the following results of a poll conducted by the newspaper on August 6-7, 1986: 60 percent of the respondents favored maintaining Japan's nuclear power capacity at its present level; 13 percent would reduce the capacity; 10 percent would increase it; and 9 percent would abolish it. When asked whether they favored "promoting" nuclear power, only 24 percent said yes, while 41 percent said no--the first time since 1978, Atoms in Japan says, that more people have been found to oppose such promotion or expansion than to support it. Sixty-seven percent now feel concern about a major nuclear accident happening in Japan. Asahi Shimbun reported these results on August 29, 1986.

-335-

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Nuclear Imperatives and Public Trust: Dealing with Radioactive Waste
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - Sources of Public Unease 7
  • 1 - Containment 9
  • 2 - A Technology Ahead of Itself 41
  • 3 - The Reprocessing Dilemma 91
  • Part 2 - Searching for a Waste Policy 127
  • 4 - Policy Struggles in the Bureaucracy 129
  • 5 - Conflict in the Host States 145
  • 6 - The Nuclear Waste Policy Act 195
  • Part 3 - Europe, Japan, and the International Waste Problem 231
  • Introduction to Part 3 233
  • 7 - The United Kingdom: Problems of Containment 235
  • 8 - Germany: Wastes, Fuel Cycle Choice, and Politics 265
  • Conclusion 288
  • 9 - Sweden: Robust Solutions 289
  • Conclusion 306
  • 10 - France: Commitment to Plutonium Fuel 307
  • Conclusion 333
  • 11 - Japan, the Pacific, and the Nuclear Allergy 335
  • Conclusion 367
  • 12 - Transnational Problems and the Need for Multinational Solutions 369
  • Conclusion 396
  • Part 4 - A Time to Act 399
  • 13 - Common Ground 401
  • Glossary, Acronyms, and Abbreviations 435
  • Name Index 449
  • Subject Index 455
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