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Five French nuclear reactors with Japan-made parts ordered to undergo safety tests

The Japan Times

France's Nuclear Safety Authority has ordered the country's EDF utility to conduct checkups at five nuclear reactors ahead of their scheduled maintenance tests, citing potential weakness in critical parts manufactured by a Japanese company, French media reported Tuesday. All five nuclear reactors are using parts made by Kitakyushu-based Japan Casting & Forging Corp. (JCFC), which is now under scrutiny by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority. The NRA discussed the matter at its regular meeting on Wednesday as it has also found the company manufactured reactor pressure vessels in 13 Japanese nuclear reactors including the Sendai Nos. 1 and 2 reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Sendai No. 1 reactor is undergoing a regular checkup while the No. 2 reactor is in operation. In addition, the NRA said JCFC had been manufacturing important components at the No. 2 unit at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture and No. 1 unit at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture, which have already been decommissioned.


LDP may lose next election if nuclear exit becomes main issue: ex-PM Koizumi

The Japan Times

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the pro-nuclear ruling party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could lose the next Lower House election if nuclear power becomes the main election issue. Citing recent gubernatorial election wins for candidates concerned about restarting nuclear power plants in Niigata and Kagoshima prefectures, Koizumi said during a recent interview with Kyodo News, "(Anti-nuclear) opinions are beginning to grow . . . If opposition parties unite in fielding anti-nuclear candidates and make a complete phase-out of the country's nuclear plants one of the top election issues, they can defeat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party by tapping into voter fears following the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, Koizumi said. The current term of Lower House lawmakers expires in December 2018, but some senior LDP officials have said Abe might dissolve the house for an election early next year. Koizumi, who promoted nuclear power generation as prime minister between 2001 and 2006, has become an active anti-nuclear campaigner.


LDP may lose next election if nuclear exit becomes main issue: ex-PM

The Japan Times

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the pro-nuclear ruling party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could lose the next Lower House election if nuclear power becomes the main election issue. Citing recent gubernatorial election wins for candidates concerned about restarting nuclear power plants in Niigata and Kagoshima prefectures, Koizumi said during a recent interview with Kyodo News, "(Anti-nuclear) opinions are beginning to grow . . . If opposition parties unite in fielding anti-nuclear candidates and make complete phase-out of the country's nuclear plants one of the top election issues, they can defeat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party by tapping into voter fears following the 20111 Fukushima meltdowns, Koizumi said. The current term of Lower House lawmakers expires in December 2018, but some senior LDP officials have said Abe might dissolve the house for an election early next year. Koizumi, who promoted nuclear power generation as prime minister between 2001 and 2006, has become an active anti-nuclear campaigner.


Ex-bureaucrat on mission to trigger technological revolution

The Japan Times

Almost a decade before the March 2011 quake and tsunami triggered the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Koichiro Fujii knew the government could not effectively communicate the risks of nuclear technology. He should know -- back then, Fujii was a government bureaucrat in the then-Science and Technology Agency whose job was to design nuclear technology policy. This included liability legislation for the fatal 1999 criticality accident at a uranium-processing plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture -- the site of Japan's first nuclear accident resulting in deaths by radiation exposure. Even before Tokai, the government was up to its neck in nuclear technology issues: It was under attack for lack of transparency and an attempted cover-up after a sodium leak caused a fire at the Monju fast-breeder prototype reactor in Fukui Prefecture, and having a rough time persuading Aomori residents to host an experimental fuel-reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho. While these issues were brewing, the fatal chain reaction debacle at Tokai struck, escalating public distrust of Japan's atomic safety mantra.


Cooling systems at five NRA-cleared nuke plants could fail if nearby volcanoes erupt

The Japan Times

Five nuclear power plants that have passed safety clearances by Japan's nuclear safety watchdog may be at risk of having their cooling systems crippled during huge eruptions of nearby volcanoes, the watchdog said Monday. The five plants are the Sendai and Genkai plants in Kagoshima and Saga Prefectures, respectively, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co., the Mihama and Oi plants, both in Fukui Prefecture and run by Kansai Electric Power Co., and the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture run by Shikoku Electric Power Co. Additional research and data have revealed that the possible concentration of volcanic ash from huge eruptions could soar up to around 100 times that previously estimated. The findings emerged only after screenings of the plants by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. According to the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the concentration of volcanic ash that would be spewed could exceed the limit of the plants' air filters.