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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

Commission rethinks role in new nuke policy


The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has decided not to play its prime role of compiling basic policy on how to use nuclear power.

The commission was founded in 1956 to draft basic policies for the development and use of atomic energy, but the government has decided to use a different arena for discussing nuclear energy as it gears up to map out a path for phasing out nuclear power by the end of the 2030s.

"As the government's process for deliberating the future of nuclear power is going to change, we think it's appropriate to withdraw from the compilation of the new framework for nuclear energy policy," the five-member commission said in a statement Tuesday.

During a meeting of panel members, commission Chairman Shunsuke Kondo pointed to the difficulty of creating policies based on insufficient discussions involving specialists and that are open to the public, saying he cannot guarantee the outcome.

"Frankly speaking, I have no idea how open and professional the discussions on nuclear policy will be," Kondo said.

However, the commission added in the statement that it will continue to play a role by submitting proposals on important issues regarding the use of nuclear power.

The commission had previously planned to review the current framework for nuclear power, which was introduced in 2005 and aimed at maintaining a level of atomic energy generation of around 30 to 40 percent of Japan's total electricity supply beyond 2030, or to even increase this ratio.

The 2005 policy also called for fast-breeder reactors that run on uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, such as the Monju unit in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, to begin full-scale operations by around 2050.

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