Bush backs Japan ITER bid

Chirac tells Koizumi EU supports France's proposal

Kyodo

U.S. President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday that he continues to support Japan’s bid to host an international nuclear reactor project, Japanese officials said.

Bush and Koizumi held a luncheon meeting ahead of the Sea Island Summit of the Group of Eight powers. Japan wants to host the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.

Bush made the remark after Koizumi thanked him for his support, they said.

The six members of the project — Japan, China, South Korea, Russia, the European Union and the United States — have been discussing whether the world’s first sustained nuclear fusion reactor should be situated in Japan or in the French town of Cadarache, as backed by the European Union.

In a separate bilateral meeting Tuesday, French President Jacques Chirac told Koizumi that Cadarache represents the wishes of the entire European Union, the officials said.

In response, Koizumi voiced hope that there would be progress in making a decision among the countries concerned.

In a December meeting in Washington, the United States and South Korea supported the Japanese plan, while Russia and China endorsed the European Union’s proposal.

High-level talks among the six members will be held as early as mid-June before final arrangements are made to choose the site.