Japanese daily Asahi slams breeder reactors

The respected Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun has attacked the government's plutonium policy in a damning editorial dated 27 April and published on 28 April 2010. Announcing the imminent restart of the 246 MW(net) fast breeder reactor Monju, the paper stated that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which had concealed information after a sodium leak in 1995 shut down the reactor ever since, "needs to demonstrate its newfound sense of responsibility on a daily basis". The fact that it decided to restart the unit, "does not mean the government should take the project a step further by developing a demonstration reactor", followed by a commercial size reactor in 2050. However, "the outlook for the plan is bleak, to say the least", writes the paper.

The IPFM held its spring meeting in Tokyo in March 2010 and released its report "Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status". The IPFM visit to Japan was also the occasion to brief members of parliament and the media and exchange with experts and officials about plutonium issues. The authors of the IPFM report had concluded that basically all the breeder programs in various countries were an industrial and economic failure. Asahi noted: "Some say it would make more sense to use that money to develop technology to extract uranium from seawater, for instance."