Beleaguered Japan Atomic Energy Commission to survive but in lesser role

Kyodo

A government panel has decided that the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which played a key role in promoting nuclear power before the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, should continue to exist but with scaled-down functions.

The commission has existed from the time Japan started nuclear power development more than 50 years ago, but its main task moving forward should be “management” of nuclear matters, rather than promotion, the panel said in a report released Tuesday.

It will focus on efforts to improve the transparency of management of the country’s plutonium stockpiles under a policy to use nuclear power only for peaceful purposes, as well as on nonproliferation and dealing with radioactive waste disposal.

The commission may also provide technical assessments in relation to Japan’s long-standing fuel recycle policy to reprocess spent uranium fuel and reuse the extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel.

It will no longer set basic policies for development and utilization of nuclear energy, which has been one of its most important jobs.

The panel came under fire last year amid questions about the fairness of its decision-making.

The number of the commissioners will be reduced to three from the original five. To ensure transparency, the report said people from electric companies and nuclear device makers should not become members of the secretariat.