• Kyodo

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Delegations from Vietnam and Malaysia, in Fukui Prefecture for a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, were given a tour Sunday of the experimental Monju reactor in Tsuruga as Japan attempts to promote its nuclear technology for export.

Monju, a prototype fast-breeder reactor, resumed operations in May after a more than 14-year suspension caused by an accident.

“By resuming operations, we would like to show to the world the outcome of our study on (the technology’s) practical use at an early date,” Japan Atomic Energy Agency chief Toshio Okazaki said.

On Saturday at APEC’s ministerial meeting in the city of Fukui, members acknowledged that nuclear power is an environmentally safer energy source that should be promoted. Japan is the chair of this year’s APEC meetings.

Among the 20 people participating in the excursion to Tsuruga were Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima and Do Huu Hao, Vietnamese deputy minister of industry and trade, according to a METI official.

Naoshima admitted that certain areas, such as cost and efficiency, need to be improved if the reactor is to be used commercially.

“It will take time, but I have expectations for the future,” he said.

Monju was fired back up on May 6 after being shut down by a sodium leak and subsequent fire in 1995.

Fast-breeder reactors are supposed to produce more nuclear fuel than they consume. The technology is believed to hold great significance for resource-poor countries like Japan but is not expected to be available for practical use until 2050.

Fukui Prefecture has more commercial nuclear reactors than any other prefecture and currently has 13 in operation.

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