November 16, 2012

Rokkasho plutonium reprocessing plant a potentially dual-use facility making it that much easier for Japan to arm nuclear weapons if it wanted to.
Contradictions about Japan's nuclear policies. From The Economist

"Rokkasho and a hard place: The government’s fudge on its nuclear future remains unconvincing
Nov 10th 2012 | ROKKASHO

THIS remote north-eastern coastal village in Aomori prefecture would delight a North Korean or Iranian spy. Not because of the rolling countryside, but the uranium-enrichment facility, the plant undergoing testing to make nuclear fuel by reprocessing spent uranium and plutonium, and the stash of a good part of Japan’s stockpiles of more than nine tonnes of separated plutonium—enough, experts say, to make more than 1,000 nuclear warheads.
The Rokkasho plant seems an anomaly in a country that forswears nuclear weapons and that has shut down all but two of its 54 nuclear reactors. Yet the same government that says it wants to phase out atomic energy by the end of the 2030s also insists that it is committed soon to start reprocessing enough nuclear waste at Rokkasho to provide fuel for Japan’s nuclear-power plants to go flat out into the 2050s. It does not take much prodding for officials to concede a potential contradiction, big enough to render Japan’s nuclear policy almost meaningless.

… Polls suggest many of the electorate favour a firmer anti-nuclear stance. [yet] …Rokkasho has grown dependent on the reprocessing complex for nearly all its jobs and income…."

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