Regarding the Oct. 5 Kyodo article “Japan panned for pushing nuke plant exports after accident“: I despair of the black comedy of Tokyo Electric Power Co. pressure and my Japanese friends’ understandable, if naive, knee-jerk reaction to it.
Japan could be proud of its nuclear technology if it got going on thinking outside the box. The old technology represented at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is the product of the Cold War. It was chosen because of, not in spite of, its ability to create plutonium. In the 1950s, when the nuclear power was developed, manufacture of “a bomb a day kept the other side away.” This was true for the Soviets and for the United States. It has cursed Japan with 60 to 70 tons of plutonium stored at various waste locations.
Another nuclear technology was dropped because it didn’t create usable fissile material: the liquid thorium reactor.
Thorium is plentiful, and its reactors are simpler, cleaner and safer than any uranium-plutonium reactor. And they can burn plutonium waste! Few people seem aware of this as most are caught up in the “green good … nuclear not green … nuclear bad” dialectic. In an age of peak energy demand and climate change, though, we need to be smarter.
The Fuji MSR (molten salt reactor) is an example of research into the “new-old” technology of thorium. The Japanese people should educate themselves about this technology and promote it through such projects as the Fuji MSR. Development of thorium reactors could make the Japanese industry a proud, profitable leader and help Japan achieve stable zero-emission generation of electricity.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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