• Kyodo

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The city assembly of Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, passed an ordinance Monday to tax spent nuclear fuel stored at a local atomic power plant, becoming Japan’s second local government to take such action.

The city previously reached an agreement on the tax plan with Kyushu Electric Power Co., which operates the Sendai nuclear plant. The tax will take effect in fiscal 2004 after receiving the approval of the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, assembly members said.

Revenue from the tax will be used to step up disaster preparedness measures and publicity campaigns for nuclear power, they said.

The bill envisions a tax of 230,000 yen per fuel bundle, equivalent to about 500 yen per kilogram of fuel. It is projected to generate around 1.26 billion yen in tax revenues in the five years starting in fiscal 2004.

The members said there were conflicting opinions at Monday’s plenary session, with those opposing the ordinance saying Sendai should instead make itself into a city that does not rely on nuclear energy, while those for the tax said it is natural for Kyushu Electric Power to bear the burden of ensuring safety.

Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture, which passed a similar ordinance in March, has not gained agreement from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the designated taxpayer.