Japan - Plutonium Investigation n°2

January 1998                                          Editorial

Last in First Out

Japan is a latecomer. Japan is not a nuclear weapon state and therefore not in a position to develop plutonium technology in the framework of a nuclear weapons program. Japanese plutonium separation technology and plutonium fuel fabrication heavily depend on the French and US governments.

When the demonstration fast breeder reactor Monju experienced a severe sodium fire and was shut down in December 1995, it had been generating electricity for barely four months. The equivalent French reactor, Phenix, had at that time, been connected to the national grid for 22 years, while the British PFR had been disconnected from the national grid since 1994 after 20 years of operation.

Japan is lucky to be a latecomer. Considering the spectacular failure of the multi billion dollar plutonium investments in other countries, Japan ironically has more freedom of choice than others. While France and the UK have - so far - proven notoriously incapable of adapting their 30 year old plutonium policies to current realities and Germany has exported its plutonium problem to France and the UK, Japan is still able to avoid the pursuit of projects which have proven inefficient and expensive elsewhere: such as the large scale fast breeder, Superphenix, which was shut down on Christmas day, 1996, after 10 years of unprecedented bad performance or massive reprocessing facilities like those of Sellafield in Britain or La Hague in France, which have been stockpiling dozens of tons of plutonium at a horrendous cost and a zero market value. Last in first out ?

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Worth Reading & Surfing

"The Dutch plutonium dead end"
By Mathieu Pavageau and Mycle Schneider, WISE-Paris September 1997, published in January 1998, commissioned by Greenpeace Netherlands, 42 pages.