In recent months, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has rekindled the public debate on atomic power, drawing attention to perhaps the most critical question about its future: Is there a safe place and way to dispose of high-level radioactive waste?

Koizumi lashed out at the fact that the government has no plan to build a permanent waste repository, even though it is eager to restart the 50 remaining viable commercial reactors if they meet new safety standards.

Amid growing criticism, the government said it will draw up a basic nuclear energy policy by the end of January.