• Kyodo

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Nearly half of Japan’s 47 prefectures said they are opposed to or held negative views about hosting a deep-underground disposal site for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, a Kyodo News survey showed Friday.

None expressed a favorable stance. The result signals further woes for the central government in its attempt to find a permanent geological disposal repository.

Little progress has been made since the process to find local governments willing to host one started in 2002, due mainly to opposition from local residents.

The survey was sent to all prefectures in July, with additional interviews conducted depending on their answers.

While 16 prefectures such as Fukushima, Kanagawa and Okinawa clearly opposed hosting a site, seven others including Hokkaido, Kyoto and Nagasaki also expressed negative views.

Most of the others did not make their positions clear.

Of the total 23 prefectures that opposed or showed negative views, seven host nuclear power plants.

“We are already undertaking a certain amount of social responsibility by hosting nuclear plants and providing energy,” Niigata Prefecture said in its response.

Fukui Prefecture said, “We are generating power. Nuclear waste disposal should be handled by others.”

Meanwhile, Hokkaido mentioned its existing ordinance to prevent nuclear waste from being brought into the northernmost main island, a view that contradicts the relatively positive stance held by one of its municipalities. The town of Suttsu said Thursday it is considering signing up for preliminary research into its land to gauge its suitability for hosting a disposal site.

On Friday, however, its mayor, Haruo Kataoka, said the town has been asked by the prefecture not to apply for the preliminary study.

Before Suttsu, the town of Toyo in Kochi Prefecture applied for the study in 2007, but it later withdrew the application following strong protests by local residents.

In the Kyodo News poll, the western prefecture expressed opposition to hosting a disposal site, saying it faces the need to take measures against a possible major earthquake in the region.

For permanent disposal, high-level radioactive waste, produced as a result of the process of extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, must be stored more than 300 meters underground so that it cannot impact human lives or the environment.

Elsewhere in the world, Finland and Sweden are the only countries to have decided on final disposal sites.

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