Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Graduate School of Humanities, Meiji University

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Visiting Researcher, Graduate School of Law and Politics, University of Tokyo
Can We Simultaneously Achieve Nuclear Nonproliferation and Civilian Use Expansion? Issues of Recent Multilateral Nuclear Fuel Cycle Approaches of U.S. and Japan and a Proposal of a New Approach

This study proposes a desirable new framework for the multilateral nuclear fuel cycle approach (MNA) that is being tackled by many countries for solving this question. In particular, this study has two characteristics . One is that it focuses on the fact that there is a hidden reason for the U.S. and Japan's commitment to MNA that relates to national politics instead of international politics . The other is that it applies technological assessment for the reinforcement of our new MNA framework in addition to social and political analyses. U.S. selected the reprocessing method for the first time for the Global nuclear partnership program (GNEP), although they had been aiming for the enforcing the once-through method for a long time because they had been regarding this technology as a proliferation risk. Japan is aiming at achieving a nuclear fuel cycle with the reprocessing method, because if the fuel is recycled by such technology, it will increasingly raise the self-sufficient ratio of energy supply in Japan. On the surface it seems that there is a difference between U.S. and Japan for choosing the reprocessing system for the nuclear fuel cycle. But, actually they have a common reason and that is that they couldn't find a solution for the best management of spent fuel at home. U.S. decided to make a direct disposal site for spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain . But they have now many problems concerning the institution and agreement with regional people. In Japan, there were many opinions against the Rokkasho reprocessing plant operation from the nuclear power promoters from the viewpoint of economics and technology. But unfortunately, Japan couldn't change the policy because the Government and utilities had accepted a long time ago the request of local governments and local people that agreed to the construction of nuclear power plant on condition that spent fuel would be carried out of their prefecture . There are many specialists who think "proliferation resistant reprocessing" is technologically impossible. Furthermore, countries that can't approach enrichment and reprocessing technology will have great antipathy to the partnership countries. Such injustice may cause the collapse of GNEP in the future. On the other hand, the possibility of commercial fast breeder reactor in Japan is very low economically and technically, even if the Rokkasho reprocessing plant can operate without failure. Thus, the eight kilograms of plutonium, which is an amount equal to that of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, will accumulate as a surplus every year. This situation will cause higher proliferation risk than now. This study strongly suggests to acquire a desirable MNA in cooperation with U.S. and Japan. The conditions are; 1) The application of the multi lateral interim storage: it will be used as the central point of spent fuel management. This system has a merit of not only economics, proliferation resistance and technology but also it provides a margin for political decision on once-through or reprocessing. 2) The application of regional oriented approach: it enables management that considers features and requests from each region.