The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has expressed concerns that the nation may run short of nuclear energy experts, calling for cooperation among industry, government and academia to strengthen nuclear education.
The commission, affiliated with the Cabinet Office, wrote in its 2019 report on nuclear energy that nuclear plant accidents, including a 1999 criticality accident at a JCO Co. facility in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, have damaged the public image of nuclear power, leading to fewer students studying nuclear energy at universities.
Japan needs to learn from the approach of the United States and the U.K., in an effort to improve nuclear education and to have high school students gain a better understanding of nuclear power, the report stressed.
Since the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. in March 2011, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, only nine reactors have so far been reactivated in Japan.
The report said more reactors needed to be brought back online in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and stabilize the power supply.
Also, the report reiterated Japan’s policy of reducing the amount of plutonium contained in spent nuclear fuel in the country.
At the end of 2019, Japan had 45.5 tons of such plutonium, down by 0.2 ton from a year before, after so-called pluthermal power generation using recycled plutonium was conducted at the No. 3 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.