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Takeo Hiranuma, the economy, trade and industry minister, said Tuesday he will visit Niigata Prefecture on Saturday to meet with local officials over the controversial plan to use plutonium-uranium mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel in nuclear power plants.

The move comes in response to the rejection by local residents May 27 of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s “pluthermal” plan to use MOX fuel in its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.

Hiranuma said he will meet with Niigata Gov. Ikuo Hirayama, Kashiwazaki Mayor Masazumi Saikawa, and Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada. He is also expected to visit Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, ministry officials said. It will be his first visit to Niigata as industry minister.

He said he will explain the government’s stance on the pluthermal project to local officials.

The government and power companies want to see MOX fuel used in light-water reactors. It has not been used so far at any of Japan’s nuclear plants due to public concerns over safety.

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