Japan's nuclear watchdog approved a plan Wednesday to scrap a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant northeast of Tokyo over a 70-year period, with the cost projected at ¥1 trillion ($9 billion).

The facility in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, went into operation in 1977. It was Japan's first spent-fuel reprocessing plant built under the nation's nuclear fuel cycle policy, which aims to reprocess all spent nuclear fuel in order to reuse the extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel in the resource-scarce country.

But the policy has run into a dead end as the completion of a separate fuel reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture, built using technological expertise developed through the Tokai plant, has been delayed by more than 20 years.