What Prevents the Work of a Voluntarism Approach to the Radioactive Waste Issue? : A Local Governments’ Strategy in Japan

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:10
Oral Presentation
Yoichi YUASA, Kanto-Gakuin University, Japan
Does the voluntarism approach to the location of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) disposal facility work in Japan? This approach is the mainstream for the high-level radioactive waste issue in the current world. The work of this approach is based on different factors that are inherent in each country. In this presentation, we will examine a specific factor in Japan that is blocking the implementation of a voluntarism approach.

Before taking the voluntarism approach, Japanese and other governments such as the United Kingdom tried to locate these facilities only by scientific criterion from the 1970s to 1990s. These attempts, however, resulted in failure.

The Japanese government has taken the voluntarism approach since the 2000s. They established the nuclear waste management organization of Japan in October 2000. The siting process is done by open solicitation of volunteer host communities.

Officials of about 15 municipalities have shown interest in having an HLW disposal facility, but a small town in Kochi prefecture was the only applicant. However, the mayor of the town was forced to resign because a large protest occurred and residents had prepared to recall him. The new mayor withdrew from the plan.

In 2017, the government publicised a nationwide map of scientific features for geological disposal that show proper areas for this facility. Does this mean to go back to the 1980s? The Japanese government still keeps its voluntarism approach, but it looks doomed.

We will find a factor of this failure in the history of HLW disposal in Japan. A key concept for analyzing is “double standard.” This is a strategy that nuclear host communities have been using. As a result of working on this strategy, a hierarchy of nuclear communities has been formed. We will point out that this hierarchy prevents the work of a voluntarism approach.