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Since August, two local governments on the western shore of Hokkaido have said they will apply to the central government for a survey that could eventually lead to their municipalities hosting a permanent underground repository for high-level radioactive waste. The fact that these two localities made their announcements about a month apart and are situated not far from each other was enough to attract more than the usual media attention, which revealed not only the straitened financial situations of the two areas, but also the muddled official policy regarding waste produced by the country’s nuclear power plants.

The respective populations of the two municipalities reacted differently. The town of Suttsu made its announcement in August, or, at least, its 71-year-old mayor did, apparently without first gaining the understanding of his constituents, who, according to various media, are opposed to the plan. An Oct. 8 Tokyo Broadcasting System Television news report said that someone threw a molotov cocktail in the vicinity of the mayor’s house the previous evening, and an Oct. 13 Tokyo Shimbun article said the mayor’s announcement came after he received a petition demanding the town not apply for the survey.

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