Nuke deterrence still vital: Kan

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Nuclear deterrence is necessary for Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Friday, shrugging off a call from the Hiroshima mayor for departing from the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” to take the lead in creating a world without such arms.

“I think that nuclear deterrence continues to be necessary for our nation at a time when there are unclear and uncertain factors,” Kan said after attending an annual ceremony in Hiroshima commemorating the atomic bombing of the city, speaking in response to a demand voiced by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba in the Hiroshima Peace Declaration during the ceremony that Japan should abandon the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

“We share strong hopes for nuclear disarmament, but the reality is that nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction are spreading,” Kan said.

He said Japan will maintain the three nonnuclear principles against production, possession and introduction of nuclear weapons, but stopped short of supporting making the principles into law, as Akiba demanded.

“There is no change in maintaining (the principles) in my Cabinet,” Kan said.

In a separate news conference in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku also said Japan will stick to its nonnuclear principles.

Pluthermal plan

Fukushima (Kyodo) Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato said Friday he will approve a “pluthermal” power generation by Tokyo Electric Power Co. at a power plant in the prefecture, a move paving the way for the nation’s third operation utilizing plutonium fuel.

Tepco is expected to start loading plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel later in August at the No. 3 reactor at Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and begin pluthermal power generation in September.

It will be the third pluthermal, or plutonium-thermal, power generation operation after ones operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co.

“I finally decided to accept (the project) since certain conditions (including quake resistance) we requested have been met,” Sato said at a meeting of senior prefectural officials dealing with nuclear plants.

In February, Sato asked Tokyo Electric and the central government to ensure the quake resistance of the plant, measures to deal with aging of the facility as well as the safety of MOX fuel, which has been stored at the plant since 1999.