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The government plans to step up its efforts to select the final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power generation, after having failed to find any willing host community for more than a decade. But the long-stalled process will have little prospect of moving forward unless doubts and questions surrounding nuclear power — including those highlighted by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster — are answered.

In 2000, the government decided that high-level radioactive waste, produced after spent fuel from nuclear power plants is reprocessed, should be vitrified and buried deeper than 300 meters underground. Two years later, it started soliciting municipalities around the country that would volunteer to host a disposal site, offering hefty subsidies in exchange for preliminary research. One town in Kochi Prefecture came forward in 2007, only to withdraw the offer after its mayor resigned in the face of local opposition.

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