Japan has numerous nuclear power reactors in operation, accounting for about 6% of total power production in 2018. At present, Japan is not considering adding power generation capabilities or replacing existing facilities. The Government of Japan released the Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook on 16 July 2015, which sets a target of reducing its dependency on nuclear power to 20–22% of electricity generation by 2030. On 3 July 2018, the Cabinet approved the fifth Strategic Energy Plan as the basis for the orientation of Japan’s new energy policy towards 2030 and further towards 2050, considering the changes in energy environments inside and outside Japan.
This report provides information on the status and development of nuclear power programmes in Japan, including factors related to the effective planning, decision making and implementation of the nuclear power programme that together lead to safe and economical operations of nuclear power plants.
The CNPP summarizes organizational and industrial aspects of nuclear power programmes and provides information about the relevant legislative, regulatory and international framework in Japan.
1. COUNTRY ENERGY OVERVIEW
1.1. ENERGY INFORMATION
1.1.1. Energy policy
In April 2014, the Government established the fourth Strategic Energy Plan for 2030, which stated the policies of reducing nuclear power dependency, reducing fossil resources dependency, and expanding renewable energy in response to the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Four years after the release of the fourth Strategic Energy Plan, the time has come not only to revise the plans for 2030 but also for Japan to conceptualize its energy choices once again, including responses focused on 2050 in response to the Paris Agreement coming into force, ultra long term responses in preparation for the decreased dependency of fossil resources in the longer term, and responses to changing energy environments, among other things. For that reason, the fifth Strategic Energy Plan comprises the long term energy supply and demand outlook in 2030 (July 2015 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decision; here referred to as the ‘energy mix’) and the design of scenarios focused on projections through 2050.
Based on the principle of 3E+S (energy security, economic efficiency, environmental protection and safety), Japan will strictly adhere to its previous basic policies of comprehensive energy saving, maximum introduction of renewable energy, streamlining of thermal power generation, and reduction of dependency on nuclear power as much as possible, while aiming for steady realization of the 2030 energy mix by identifying and strengthening the implementation of measures for each energy source.
With regard to the long term outlook for 2050, an accurate forecast is also difficult due to the potential, and uncertainty, of technological innovation and the unpredictability of future conditions. For this reason, it is appropriate to take an approach using multiple track scenarios under which ambitious targets are set but priorities are always determined based on the latest information.
Nuclear power energy output per unit of fuel is extremely large, and it can continue producing power for several years using a domestic fuel stockpile. Nuclear power is an important baseload power source as a low carbon and quasi-domestic energy source, contributing to the stability of the energy supply–demand structure in the long term, on the major premise that its safety is ensured because of: (i) more stable energy supply and efficiency; (ii) low and stable operational costs; and (iii) zero greenhouse gas emissions during operation.
Dependency on nuclear power generation will be reduced as much as possible with increased use of renewable energy and through energy savings as well as improvements in the efficiency of thermal power generation.
Towards 2050, while there is some movement towards eliminating nuclear power, which is an option for decarbonization at the practical stage, global initiatives are ongoing to further enhance its safety, economics and mobility in response to changes in energy needs.
In Japan, it is essential first and foremost to recover public trust through initiatives such as the reduction of the risk of accidents through further safety enhancements and the handling of back end issues such as decommissioning reactors and processing and disposing of waste. To this end, the Government will immediately begin strengthening human resources, technology, and the industry foundations and progress with the pursuit of reactors with superior safety, economics, and mobility and the development of technology aimed at the resolution of back end problems. An earnest nuclear posture and initiatives with a strong sense of responsibility stem from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as the starting point are important and will be key to securing public trust in nuclear power.
1.1.2. Estimated available energy
Table 1 shows estimated energy reserves in Japan.
TABLE 1. ESTIMATED AVAILABLE ENERGY SOURCES
|Total amount in specific units||9.26||71.30||3.25||23.31||49.56||10.88|
|Total amount in exajoules (EJ)||—c||—c||—c||—c||—c||—c|
Source: Nuclear Regulation Authority; Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
Note: Solid, liquid: million tonnes; gas: billion m3; uranium: thousand tonnes; hydro, renewable: GW. Data at the end of 2017.
a Conversion rate from oil (kL) to oil (t): 0.855; from LNG (t) to LNG (m3): 1220.
b Uranium excludes depleted uranium.
c —: data not available.
1.1.3. Energy statistics
In the past, Japan imported a large amount of inexpensive crude oil. In 1973, oil accounted for 75.5% of its total energy consumption. However, Japan then sustained surging oil prices amid the first oil crisis in 1973. With growing fears of oil supply cuts, Japan decided to reduce its reliance on oil as the primary energy source and instead introduced more nuclear power, natural gas and coal in order to stabilize the country’s domestic energy supply and production.
As a result, Japan’s dependence on oil declined from 75.5% in 1973 to 40.3% in 2010. Meanwhile, the country accelerated the diversification of energy sources to include coal (22.7%), natural gas (18.2%) and nuclear power (11.2%). However, with the shutdown of nuclear power plants after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, consumption of fossil fuel as an alternative to nuclear power increased greatly, and the role of oil in total energy consumption increased to 44.5% in 2012, with nuclear power representing 0.7%. The electricity generation of oil fired power in 2017 decreased owing to the expansion of renewable energy and the restart of nuclear power plants. The ratio of oil decreased to 39.0%, for five consecutive years, which was the lowest level since 1965 (see Table 2).
TABLE 2. ENERGY STATISTICS
|2000||2010||2015||2017a||Annual av. growth rate 2000–2017 (%)|
|Total energy consumption (EJ)b||22.71||22.00||20.02||20.09||-0.76|
|Total energy production (EJ)||4.48||4.34||2.20||2.64||-3.25|
|Net imports (imports - exports)||18.46||17.73||17.81||17.42||-0.36|
Source: General Energy Statistics, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
a Latest available data (fiscal year).
b Energy consumption = energy production + net imports (imports - exports) ± stock change.
c Solid fuels include coal, anthracite and lignite. Liquid fuels include crude oil, kerosene, gasoline, light oil and heavy oil, as well as LNG and refinery gas.
d Conversion from electricity production to primary energy production is based on net efficiency of thermal power generation by general electricity utilities.
1.2. THE ELECTRICITY SYSTEM
1.2.1. Electricity policy and decision making process
The Electricity and Gas Industry Committee, comprising non-governmental professionals and experts, provides advice and recommendations to METI on a regular basis with regard to the basic national policies to achieve stable supplies of power, promote demand oriented energy saving measures, promote load leveling and further develop electric power. Based on this advice, METI and related ministries and agencies confer regularly with individual power companies to review up to date demand and supply performance and evaluate the power supply programme for the future.
1.2.2. Structure of electric power sector
The electricity market is divided into nine geographical zones, with an electric power company in each zone. These are private enterprises that specialize only in electric utility operations and are the main power suppliers in each zone, though the electricity market was partially liberalized. In addition to these companies, there is also the Okinawa Electric Power Company, which is a smaller electric utility company operating in Okinawa Prefecture, which comprises many small islands. These power companies operate their own facilities from power generation to transmission and distribution as integrated business operations.
The Electric Power Development Company maintains thermal and hydroelectric power stations, while the Japan Atomic Power Company oversees nuclear power stations. The two private enterprises produce electric power and act as wholesalers to the nine electric power companies. However, relative to Japan’s total installed capacity, the comparative installed capacity is small.
In April 2013, the Cabinet carried out a bold measure under the Policy on Electricity System Reform to expand cross-regional system operation and full retail competition, and to ensure the neutrality of the power transmission and distribution sectors through legal unbundling.
Under the proposed reform, some steps have already taken place. Firstly, the Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators (OCCTO) was established in April 2015. Then in September 2015, the Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission (EGC) was established under METI to strengthen the monitoring of the electricity, gas and heat power trading market. After those two new institutions were set up, the electricity retail market was fully liberalized in April 2016. The legal unbundling has not been done except for TEPCO, but it is planned to take place by April 2020.
1.2.3. Main indicators
TABLE 3. INSTALLED CAPACITY, ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION
|1980||1990||2000||2010||2015||2017||Annual av. growth rate 2000–2017 (%)|
|Capacity of electrical plants (GW(e))|
|Electricity production (TW·h)|
|Total electricity consumption (TW·h)c||575.1||847.4||1054.8||1148.1||1039.4|
Source: Latest available data are for 2017. Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
a —: data not available.
b Electricity transmission losses are not deducted.
c Total electricity consumption is based on General Energy Statistics, which includes electricity own use by autoproducers and electricity transmission losses.
TABLE 4. ENERGY RELATED RATIOS
|Energy consumption (GJ/capita)a||136||160||180||173||156||157|
|Electricity consumption (kW·h/capita)||4915||6880||8352||8990||8120||8355|
|Electricity production/energy production (%)||83.4||85.5||84.3||96.4||172.1||146|
|Nuclear/total electricity (%)b||16.9||27.3||34.2||31.4||1.2||3.4|
|Ratio of external dependency (%)c||84.4||81.7||80.3||80.3||89.0||86.9|
Source: Latest available data are for 2017. General Energy Statistics, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy; Basic Resident Register, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
a Energy consumption = energy production + net imports (imports - exports) ± stock change.
b Nuclear/total electricity is based on electricity production in Table 3.
c Ratio of external dependency = (energy consumption - energy production)/energy consumption.
2. NUCLEAR POWER SITUATION
2.1. HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT AND CURRENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
Enactment of the Atomic Energy Basic Law in 1955 promoted atomic energy development and utilization for peaceful objectives in compliance with the three basic principles of democratic management, voluntary action and open information. In 1956, inauguration of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) established an advisory board for the prime minister on matters regarding the promotion of atomic energy development and utilization.
The Long-term Programme for Research, Development, and Utilization of Nuclear Energy was formulated in 1956. The plan was revised and updated every five years between 1956 and 2000.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, later known as METI) was reorganized in 1966 to accommodate its increasing workload. This change provided additional rules and regulations for introducing commercial light water reactors (LWRs) in Japan after 1966.
In 1974, three basic laws for promoting electric power development were enacted: Law for the Adjustment of Areas Adjacent to Power-Generating Facilities; Electric Power Development Promotion Tax Law; and Special Account Law for Electric Power Promotion. These laws also advanced the appropriate siting of nuclear power stations.
In 1978, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) was formed as a separate entity from the AEC. Safety assurance measures were enhanced in 1980 to reflect lessons learned from the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and, later, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986.
The overall appraisal of the Vision of Nuclear Power in 1986 provided long range prospects for energy availability and electric power requirements through 2030, and a programme for enhancing safety called Safety 21, which further reinforced safety assurance measures. In 1990, Japan revised its supply targets to include alternative energy sources to mitigate its growing demand for oil and its contribution to the global greenhouse effect.
The Government carried out administrative reforms in January 2001. In that year, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) was formed as a special institution of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) and METI (originally MITI) to have jurisdiction over matters of nuclear and industrial safety. In addition, the AEC and NSC of the Cabinet Office gave high level independent and appropriate directions to other ministries and agencies.
The earthquake that occurred off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region on 11 March 2011 and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini nuclear power plants. In particular, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, an extremely serious accident measuring Level 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) occurred. A report by the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission noted the following :
“The regulators did not monitor or supervise nuclear safety. The lack of expertise resulted in ‘regulatory capture,’ and the postponement of the implementation of relevant regulations. They avoided their direct responsibilities by letting operators apply regulations on a voluntary basis. Their independence from the political arena, the ministries promoting nuclear energy, and the operators was a mockery. They were incapable, and lacked the expertise and the commitment to assure the safety of nuclear power.”
Based on the lessons learned from the accident, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) was established as an external organ of the Ministry of the Environment by separating the functions of promotion and regulation of nuclear energy, with the aim of avoiding potential problems when a single government organization acted both as a regulatory authority and one promoting wider use of nuclear energy. It was also established as an authority under art. 3(1) so that the chairman and the commissioners can exercise an independent, neutral and fair role, based on their own expertise. Additionally, in order to eliminate the harmful effects of a vertically divided administration, the NRA is to integrally govern regulations on nuclear energy, nuclear security, safeguards based on international commitments, radiation monitoring and regulations on the use of radioisotopes, which previously had been governed by other administrative organs. On 1 March 2014, the Incorporated Administrative Agency, the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization and all of its activities were integrated into the NRA.
In accordance with the Amended Act to reform the former AEC, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) was re-established in 2014. It published the Basic Policy for Nuclear Energy, intended to serve as a compass for the direction of long term governmental policy on nuclear energy use for the coming years, which was authorized by the Cabinet in July 2017.
2.1.2. Current organizational structure
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) was created through a merger of the former Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and the Science and Technology Agency (STA). MEXT is responsible for administering nuclear energy for science and technology. Its key roles are nuclear R&D (including the nuclear fuel cycle, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) and accelerators), human resources in the field of nuclear energy and nuclear liability. It is also responsible for supervising the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA).
METI is in charge of those areas in which it had been involved previously as MITI, or took over from the STA, relating to nuclear fuel cycle activities (refining, enrichment, fabrication, reprocessing and waste disposal). Nuclear power related issues are the responsibility of the ANRE.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is responsible for international nuclear cooperation, including implementation of related international treaties and conventions.
The Cabinet Office is generally responsible for policy planning and policy coordination on crucial and specific issues in the Cabinet, including those related to the use of nuclear energy.
The JAEC set in the Office of Atomic Energy Policy of the Cabinet Office provides independent long term direction on nuclear energy use encompassing relevant government ministries and agencies. The Office of Atomic Energy Policy functions as the secretariat of JAEC (see Fig. 1 for the general structure of the nuclear energy sector).
Note: ANRE — Agency for Natural Resources and Energy; CAO — Cabinet Office; JAEA — Japan Atomic Energy Agency; JAEC — Japan Atomic Energy Commission; METI — Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; MEXT — Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; MOE — Ministry of Environment; MOFA — Ministry of Foreign Affairs; NRA — Nuclear Regulation Authority.
FIG. 1. Organizational structure of the nuclear energy sector.
2.2. NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: OVERVIEW
2.2.1. Status and performance of nuclear power plants
As of May 2019, the total net capacity of nuclear power generation (the sum of reference unit power for all operational nuclear reactors) was 35 947 MW(e). Due to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, it was decided to decommission Fukushima Units 1–4 on 19 April 2012 and Units 5 and 6 on 31 January 2014.
TABLE 5. STATUS AND PERFORMANCE OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
|HIGASHI DORI-1 (TOHOKU)||BWR||1067||Operational||TOHOKU||TOSHIBA||2000-11-07||2005-01-24||2005-03-09||2005-12-08||0.0|
|FUGEN ATR||HWLWR||148||Permanent Shutdown||JAEA||HITACHI||1972-05-10||1978-03-20||1978-07-29||1979-03-20||2003-03-29|
|Data source: IAEA - Power Reactor Information System (PRIS).|
|Note: Table is completely generated from PRIS data to reflect the latest available information and may be more up to date than the text of the report.|
2.2.2. Plant upgrading, plant life management and licence renewals
The operational period for a nuclear power reactor has a specific term of 40 years from the day on which construction work for installing said reactor passes for the first time the inspection set forth in art. 43-3-11(1) of the Reactor Regulation Act, also known as the pre-service inspection (art. 43-3-32(1) of the Reactor Regulation Act).
A period of extended operation can be authorized for up to 20 years; a subsequent period of extended operation is not possible.
2.2.3. Permanent shutdown and decommissioning process
Twenty reactors in total have been shut down permanently or are to be decommissioned in Japan, including Fukushima Daiichi Units 1–6.
Decommissioning work has already begun on nine reactors (Tokai, Hamaoka Units 1 and 2, Tsuruga Unit 1, Shimane Unit 1, Genakai Unit 1, Mihama Units 1 and 2, and Ikata Unit 1).
Utilities have submitted their decommissioning plans for the following nine reactors to the NRA, and the NRA approved the decommissioning plans for six reactors of these:
Mihama Units 1 and 2;
Shimane Unit 1;
Genkai Unit 1;
Tsuruga Unit 1;
Ikata Unit 1.
Plants under review:
Ohi Units 1 and 2;
Ikata Unit 2.
A decision was made in October 2018 to decommission Onagawa Unit 1. The decommissioning of Genkai Unit 2 was also decided in February 2019.
2.3. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER SECTOR
2.3.1. Nuclear power development strategy
On the premise that safety comes before everything else and that every possible effort is made to resolve the people’s concerns, judgement as to whether nuclear power plants meet the new regulatory requirements will be left to the NRA and in case that the NRA confirms the conformity of nuclear power plants with the new regulatory requirements, among the most stringent in the world, the Government will follow the NRA’s judgement and will proceed with the restart of the nuclear power plants. In that case, the Government will make best effort to obtain the understanding and cooperation of the host municipalities and other relevant parties.
Dependency on nuclear power generation will be lowered to the extent possible by saving energy and introducing renewable energy, as well as improving the efficiency of thermal power generation. Under this policy, the Government will steadily advance the necessary responses with the aim of realizing the power source composition ratio in the energy mix for 2030 formulated by carefully examining the volume of electricity to be secured by nuclear power generation, taking Japan’s energy constraints into consideration, from the viewpoint of stable energy supply, cost reduction, global warming countermeasures and maintaining the technologies and human resources necessary to secure safety (the Government set a target of reducing its dependency on nuclear power to 20–22% by 2030).
2.3.2. Project management
In Japan, private electric power suppliers manage construction of nuclear energy plants. Those electric power suppliers are the owners and operators of nuclear energy plants. Electric power suppliers manage entire construction projects, with construction work and manufacturing of equipment and facilities done by the companies that constructed the plants.
2.3.3. Project funding
The financial resources for constructing nuclear power plants are procured by electric power suppliers, which are the implementing entities of construction projects. The methods of procuring funds are comparatively flexible, with sources including banking institutions, government financial institutions, stock markets and internal reserves. The Reactor Regulation Act requires anyone who installs nuclear facilities to have adequate financial resources, as one criteria for permission. The NRA will check and confirm that any applicant has the appropriate financial resources.
2.3.4. Electric grid development
Most electric power suppliers that generate nuclear power in Japan have their own electric distribution networks which cover the whole country. Under the power generation and distribution management system of individual electric power suppliers, distribution networks ensure stable distribution by appropriately adjusting the amount of power generated in accordance with rapidly changing demand.
Electricity system reforms ensure the neutrality of power transmission and distribution sectors through legal unbundling.
As a technical requirement, electric power suppliers should choose locations for nuclear power plants that are less vulnerable to natural disasters and with stable ground conditions. In the procedures for obtaining permission to install reactors, site conditions are subject to safety reviews.
2.3.6. Public awareness
The Government will enhance public relations activities based on scientific evidence and objective facts with regard to such matters as risks related to nuclear energy and impacts of accidents, regulatory requirements, safety measures to be taken after accidents, disaster management measures following severe accidents (assuming one has taken place), problems related to spent fuels, economic efficiency of nuclear energy, and international trends. Carefully planned public hearings and public relations activities will be enhanced not only in regions with nuclear power plants but also in electricity consuming regions that have until now received the benefits of power supply, through sincere dialogues with various stakeholders and reinforcing sharing information. In addition, the Government will enhance education on nuclear power to improve the public’s understanding of nuclear power across generations.
2.4. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
There are three reactor manufacturers in Japan which can offer pressurized water reactors (PWRs): Toshiba; Hitachi, which has a strategic global alliance with General Electric and can offer boiling water reactors (BWRs); and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Many companies are capable of supplying equipment and services to the nuclear power industry in Japan. These range from suppliers of major items of equipment and machinery to those supplying conventional equipment or offering engineering services. They also include firms related to the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear fuel recycling.
2.5. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE OPERATION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Nine electric power companies operate commercial LWRs, and another company is a producer and wholesaler of electricity generated from nuclear power in Japan.
With regard to the training of nuclear power plant operators in Japan, both BWR and PWR groups have their own training centres. These are financed, built and used jointly by member companies in each group, comprising electric power companies and contracted engineering firms. In addition, each electric power company has its own training facility. Engineering qualification tests for operator certification are conducted at training centres operated jointly by member companies.
Representative suppliers of maintenance services are Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi. The electric power companies make contracts with these maintenance service companies. Contractors assume responsibility for repair and maintenance services for their nuclear power plants.
2.6. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE DECOMMISSIONING OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
In Japan, the fundamental policy is to dismantle and remove decommissioned nuclear power generation facilities that have completed their service lives, while ensuring the complete safety of that process. The decommissioning process is mainly divided into four phases and each utility has formulated a plan to complete decommissioning over the course of 30 years.
The estimated cost of decommissioning a reactor in Japan is estimated to be several tens of billions of yen.
2.7. FUEL CYCLE, INCLUDING WASTE MANAGEMENT
Fuel cycle activities in Japan comprise the following activities and are conducted by, or under the responsibility of, the following enterprises and organizations:
Uranium enrichment (Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited);
Reconversion (Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel);
Uranium fuel fabrication (Global Nuclear Fuel Japan, Nuclear Fuel Industries, Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel);
Storage of spent fuel (nuclear reactor operators (utilities), Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, Recyclable Fuel Storage Company);
Reprocessing and MOX fabrication (Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, Nuclear Reprocessing Organization of Japan);
Final disposal of high level radioactive waste (Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan).
2.8. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
2.8.1. R&D organizations
Government responsibilities for R&D are shared between the MEXT and METI. MEXT is responsible for planning and administering nuclear energy for science and technology. MEXT plays a key role in many areas of nuclear R&D, including the nuclear fuel cycle, FBRs and accelerators. Established in 2001, MEXT supervises the work of the JAEA which was established in 2005. The ANRE carries out various activities, which include studies on improving reactor designs of LWRs, approving design modifications proposed by utilities and decommissioning.
2.8.2. Development of advanced nuclear power technologies
In addition to LWRs for power production, Japan is actively developing other types of reactor, such as high temperature gas cooled reactors (HTGRs) and FBRs.
HTGRs are expected to be utilized in various industries, including hydrogen production. The principal HTGR R&D programme uses the JAEA (formerly JAERI) High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor (HTTR), at Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture. The HTTR is a helium gas cooled reactor with 30 MW(th) capacity. This reactor has been used to establish and upgrade technologies for advanced HTGRs and to demonstrate the effectiveness of selected high temperature heat utilization systems. The initial criticality of the HTTR was achieved in November 1998. The HTTR attained full power operation of 30 MW(th) and a gas temperature of 950°C at the reactor outlet in April 2004. Fifty day long term high temperature operation at 950°C demonstrated that the HTTR can supply high temperature heat for planned heat utilization systems, which followed in 2010. The loss of forced cooling test was accomplished at 9 MW(th) in 2010 under the framework of the loss of forced coolant international joint research project of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA). The HTTR has not operated since the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 because all nuclear reactors in Japan were required to meet the new regulation standard. The JAEA submitted the application for the HTTR to the NRA that it conforms to the new regulation standard in November 2014. The review by the NRA is in progress.
The JAEA is also working on R&D for a hydrogen production system using a thermochemical water splitting iodine–sulphur process. In January 2019, the JAEA achieved 150 hours of hydrogen production by using the continuous hydrogen production test facility made of industrial material. HTGR development is promoted in the Strategic Energy Plan, which was adopted by the Cabinet in 2014. On the basis of the Strategic Energy Plan, MEXT established a task force in the Nuclear Science Committee to develop future R&D plans for HTGRs in May 2014, and this task force developed an interim report in September 2014. On the basis of the recommendation of the task force report, an industrial–academic–government forum for HTGR in Japan was established aiming to discuss future HTGR plans. Six meetings have been held so far (April 2015, September 2015, April 2016, June 2016, June 2017 and August 2018) and discussions are under way. The forum established a working group to discuss the strategy to deploy the Japanese HTGR technology overseas. Two meetings were held in August 2017. Under the new Strategic Energy Plan approved by the Cabinet in 2018, the Government facilitates R&D of technologies that serves the safety improvement of nuclear use such as HTGR.
The JAEA is conducting R&D on FBRs and nuclear fuel reprocessing technology to establish an economical nuclear fuel cycle. The experimental fast reactor (Joyo) was operated from 1982 to 2000 with the MK-II core (100 MW(th)). Thereafter, the core and the cooling system were modified and attained initial criticality as the MK-III core (140 MW(th)) in July 2003. Irradiation tests for the self-actuated shutdown system, minor actinide–mixed oxide fuel and oxide dispersion strengthened steel were conducted with the MK-III core. In 2007, an irradiation rig (MARICO-2) bent on an in-vessel storage rack. Restoration work, including retrieving MARICO-2 and exchanging the upper core structure, was finished in 2015. The JAEA submitted an application for Joyo restart to comply with the new regulatory requirements in March 2017. Under the direction of the NRA, the JAEA submitted an amendment of the application in October 2018. The review by the NRA is in progress.
The prototype FBR Monju (liquid metal cooled reactor) with a capacity of 280 MW reached initial criticality in April 1994, and was connected to the grid in August 1995. Reactor operation was interrupted in December 1995 due to a sodium leak in the non-radioactive secondary cooling system. After carrying out the investigation into the cause and the comprehensive safety review for two years and the necessary licensing procedure, the JAEA completed a series of modifications in order to reinforce countermeasures against potential sodium leak accidents. Monju was restarted in May 2010 and the core confirmation test was conducted until July 2010. But after the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011, an order on measures for plant safety was issued by the NRA to suspend preparations for the pre-operational tests in the system startup tests due to inadequate maintenance management in May 2013 and the JAEA continued to address the order. The JAEA completely revised the plant maintenance management system and the quality assurance system, and their results were reported to the NRA in August 2016. After that, the JAEA implemented the inspection of components and systems of Monju on the basis of the new plant maintenance programme. Given this situation, the Inter-Ministerial Council for Nuclear Power was held in September 2016, resulting in the decision that “A fundamental review of Monju taking decommissioning into consideration is conducted”. Following that decision, the Council on Fast Reactor Development was held from October through December 2016 to discuss the development policy on fast reactors in Japan. In consideration of the discussion of the Council on Fast Reactor Development, the Government decided the permanent shutdown of Monju on 21 December 2016. Following the decision, the JAEA submitted the decommissioning plan of Monju to the NRA on 6 December 2017, which was approved on 28 March 2018 by the NRA. Monju is currently undergoing decommissioning.
Knowledge and experience obtained from the design, construction and R&D on Monju are being assembled and organized for future fast reactors. The Monju decommissioning plan is also being developed to establish the decommissioning technology for fast reactors such as sodium handling techniques. Through these R&D activities, the Monju site will be utilized as a key site for nuclear research and human resource development.
With regard to the development of future fast reactors in Japan, a practical level strategic working group was established to draw up a strategic roadmap for fast reactor development. The roadmap specifies the development work in the next ten years in Japan, a plan that was completed at the end of 2018. The roadmap states the significance of fast reactor development, and refers to the target technology, schedule and development system. As for the target technology, Japan will pursue the possibility of various fast reactor technologies that can be applied after 2024. In addition to these development activities, the Feasibility Study on Commercialized Fast Breeder Reactor Cycle Systems undertaken by the JAEA with the cooperation of electricity utilities and other interested parties was carried out from 1999 to 2005 with the objective of presenting an optimal commercialization vision for FBR technologies and a R&D programme towards that end. Based on the conclusion of the Feasibility Study and check and review by the Government, the Fast Reactor Cycle Technology Development (FaCT) programme was launched in 2006 to advance the fast reactor cycle technology towards commercialization. However, FaCT was suspended due to the Fukushima Daiichi accident on 11 March 2011. Recent activities in relation to fast reactor R&D are mainly on safety approach standardization and international cooperation with France. In accordance with the Strategic Energy Plan, R&D for the reduction of waste volume and radiotoxicity and safety enhancement optimizing the use of international cooperation are being conducted by the JAEA.
2.8.3. International cooperation and initiatives
Implementation of nuclear safety and R&D through international cooperation is described below.
220.127.116.11. Activities with the IAEA
Japan has contributed to developing and revising IAEA safety standards by dispatching experts to the Commission on Safety Standards (CSS), the Nuclear Safety Standards Committee (NUSSC), the Waste Safety Standards Committee (WASSC), the Radiation Safety Standards Committee (RASSC), the Transport Safety Standards Committee (TRANSSC) and the Emergency Preparedness and Response Standards Committee (EPReSC). With regard to the Convention on Nuclear Safety and Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, Japan dispatched experts from the draft planning stage. Japan has also participated in review activities after the submission of national reports, promotion of peaceful uses for nuclear energy (safety related cooperation, technical aid to developing countries and R&D) and provision of safeguards to ensure that nuclear activities are not converted for military applications.
Japan also participates in the following:
International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG);
Assessment of Safety Significant Events Team (ASSET);
Operational Safety Review Team (OSART);
Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS);
Site and External Events Design (SEED);
International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS);
Special studies to evaluate the safety of reactors in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Japan has annually made an extrabudgetary contribution to the IAEA for: (i) the Expanded Programme of Public Understanding of Nuclear Energy (EPPUNE); (ii) the development of national infrastructure for nuclear power plants; (iii) the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant; and (iv) nuclear knowledge management.
18.104.22.168. Activities with the OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency
The purpose is to provide useful information to members through technological studies and mutual cooperation on common problems in using nuclear energy in advanced countries. Japan participates actively in the following:
Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA);
Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI);
Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC);
Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations and Legacy Management (CDLM);
Nuclear Science Committee (NSC);
Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH);
Nuclear Law Committee (NLC);
Committee for Technical and Economic Studies on Nuclear Energy Development and the Fuel Cycle (NDC).
Japan has participated in multilateral cooperation frameworks and projects such as the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) and the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC).
Japan has hosted the Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA).
2.9. HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
The Government will also take an integrated approach to support development of human resources, institutional infrastructure and other items for countries planning to introduce nuclear power through cooperation with international organizations, such as the IAEA.
2.10. STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT
The Government will be more actively involved in communications, referencing examples in other countries, and will take the necessary measures to enhance the sharing of information within regions through careful dialogues with various stakeholders, including local residents.
2.11. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
In the case of a nuclear emergency, appropriate measures have to be taken promptly for protecting people, to avoid or to minimize severe deterministic effects and to reduce the risk of stochastic effects of ionizing radiation. In the light of the experience of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, it is necessary to take protective actions such as evacuation even before a release of radioactive materials by detecting abnormal conditions at facilities. When radioactive materials are released, appropriate protective actions are required promptly according to the results of radiation monitoring. The approach mentioned below is based upon the framework outlined by the IAEA.
It is necessary to define emergency classes associating plant conditions and corresponding hazards, to understand the plant situation clearly and to share this understanding among the staff on the site, responsible persons in local, regional and national organizations as well as the international community, and to establish a management system for protective actions. Three emergency classes are defined and emergency action levels (EALs) for commercial reactors are predetermined to identify proper emergency class.
Emergency classes in Japan:
Alert: There are no radiation effects, nor any imminent hazards to the public, but caution is required because incidents detected might lead to abnormal phenomena at the nuclear facility.
Site Area Emergency: It is necessary to start preparing for main protective actions such as evacuation around a nuclear facility because an incident that may possibly cause radiation effects on residents around the facility was detected in the facility.
General Emergency: Competent authorities, including local governments, must conduct prompt protective actions in order to avoid or to minimize severe deterministic effects and to reduce the risk of stochastic effects, because an incident which could possibly cause radiation effects on residents around the facility was detected.
In addition, emergency planning zones for protective actions have also been determined for commercial reactors as follows considering lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident:
Precautionary Action Zone (PAZ): An area around a facility for which emergency arrangements were made to take urgent protective actions in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency to avoid or to minimize severe deterministic effects off the site. Precautionary protective actions within this area are to be taken before a release of radioactive materials or an exposure, on the basis of prevailing conditions at the facility. The range of a PAZ is recommended to be within approximately a 5 km radius from the nuclear facility.
Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone (UPZ): An area around a facility for which arrangements have been made to take urgent protective actions in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency to reduce the risk of stochastic effects off the site. Protective actions within this area are to be taken on the basis of environmental monitoring or, as appropriate, prevailing conditions at the facility. The range of a UPZ is recommended to be within approximately a 30 km radius from the nuclear facility.
Furthermore, operational intervention levels (OILs) have been defined in order to implement appropriate protective actions after the release of radioactive materials into the environment.
OILs are expressed in terms of ground or surface concentrations, or activity concentrations of radionuclides in environmental, food or water samples.
OILs are used immediately and directly to determine the appropriate protective actions on the basis of an environmental measurement.
Figures 2 and 3 show the protective actions which are taken during each emergency class and each emergency planning zone.
FIG. 2. Protective actions in an emergency based on EALs.
FIG. 3. Protective actions in an emergency based on OILs.
Relevant local governments establish regional disaster prevention plans based on the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures and provide basic measures for nuclear disaster control.
In the Fukushima Prefecture regional disaster prevention plans (nuclear emergency preparedness), however, which had been established before the Fukushima Daiichi accident, various problems arose, including confusion with regard to the evacuation of residents. Because the plans did not postulate accidents with natural disasters, such as earthquakes, communication for residents was difficult due to the shortage of communication lines on disaster prevention administration wireless equipment and the damage to communication devices by the earthquake and tsunami. Based on that situation, relevant local governments are now to establish evacuation plans for residents with more concrete evacuation measures.
Based on the Basic Disaster Management Plan and the Nuclear Emergency Response Guidelines, relevant local governments within approximately 30 km from nuclear power plants establish regional disaster prevention plans.
It is important that the content of a regional disaster prevention plan be effective and concrete. The state is expected to provide support for measures that are unsolvable by the relevant local governments, once evacuation plans and measures for persons requiring assistance have been established.
Based on the Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Council decision in September 2013, regional nuclear emergency preparedness committees were established in March 2015 as working teams in 13 regions that are home to nuclear power plants to resolve potential problems relating to the operation of the nuclear energy programme. It then established working groups under the committees. Within the working group of each region, the support for establishment of evacuation plans, coordination for wide areas and support for the State’s actual working units are considered. Furthermore, the State and relevant local governments together handle concrete actions and development of the regional disaster prevention plans and evacuation plans. The nuclear disaster control measures are compiled in areas in which the regional disaster prevention plans and evacuation plans are concrete and are further developed. The regional nuclear emergency preparedness committees confirm that the measures are concrete and reasonable, in the light of the Nuclear Emergency Response Guidelines. The Nuclear Disaster Management of the Cabinet Office reports the results of this confirmation to the Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Council to request approval. In the confirmed nuclear disaster control measures, PDCA (plan, do, check, action) cycles are introduced and nuclear disaster control measures are developed on an ongoing basis. In this cycle, “plan” refers to the support and confirmation of concreteness and development, and the confirmation of nuclear disaster control measures; “do” refers to exercises based on nuclear disaster control measures that are confirmed in regional nuclear emergency preparedness committees; “check” refers to the extraction reflection points from the results of the exercises; and “action” refers to the development of the nuclear disaster control measures in said areas based on these points (see Fig. 4).
FIG. 4. Formulation of regional disaster prevention plans and evacuation plans.
In 2018, the Genkai Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Committee revised the Genkai Region Emergency Response, and the Ikata Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Committee revised the Ikata Region Emergency Response.
3. NATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS
3.1. REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
3.1.1. Regulatory authorities
The use of nuclear power for energy is under the jurisdiction of METI. With regard to nuclear safety regulations, the NRA was established as an external organ of the Ministry of the Environment in September 2012 (see also Section 2.1.1).
3.1.2. Licensing process
The process for permission for nuclear power plants in Japan is as follows:
Review if the facilities conform to regulatory requirements by commissioners and safety review officers of the NRA:
Review meetings open to the public;
Opinion hearing on the permission:
Requests to the JAEC and the Minister of METI for their official comments based on the Reactor Regulation Act;
Public Comments on the “draft review report” from scientific and technical perspectives.
Installation permit/amendment of permit:
The NRA finalizes the review results based on the opinions, etc., and makes the decision.
There are three elements for the Conformity Review: (i) Application for Amendment of Reactor Installation Permit; (ii) Application for Construction Plan Approval; and (iii) Application for Amendment of Operational Safety Programme Approval. Licensees must complete these authorization procedures before using power reactor facility. Moreover, unless it is confirmed that power reactor facilities at issue conform to the approved construction plan in a pre-service inspection to be conducted after the Conformity Review, a licensee cannot use a power reactor facility without pass the pre-service inspection.
3.2. NATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN NUCLEAR POWER
Figure 5 shows the main laws controlling nuclear power plants in Japan as of May 2019.
FIG. 5. Major nuclear laws in Japan (as of May 2019).
3.2.1. Atomic Energy Basic Law
With respect to the research, development and use of nuclear energy, the Law prescribes that they be performed by ensuring safety, under democratic management and voluntarily. Information about it is to be available to the public. Nuclear related laws and regulations are enacted based on the spirit of the Act.
3.2.2. Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors
Also known as the Reactor Regulation Act, its main purpose is to ensure that the uses of nuclear source material, nuclear fuel material and reactors are limited to peaceful ones in accordance with the spirit of the Atomic Energy Basic Act, and also to provide necessary regulations on refining activities, fabricating and enrichment activities, interim storage activities, reprocessing activities and waste disposal activities, as well as on the installment and operation of reactors in order to prevent radioactive substances from being released in unusual levels from the area where the nuclear facilities are installed, as a result of either a severe accident or a large scale natural disaster.
In response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Reactor Regulation Act was revised by the Supplementary Provisions of the Act for Establishment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in June 2012, for the purpose of introducing new regulations based on lessons learned, availability of the latest technical knowledge, as well as trends in overseas regulations, including regulatory requirements specified by international organizations such as the IAEA. The main points of the revision include the following:
Strengthening countermeasures against severe accidents;
Adoption of the latest technical knowledge and introduction of the backfitting system under which already authorized nuclear facilities are also required to conform to new regulatory requirements;
Introduction of an approval system for the extension of operational periods;
Integration of all safety regulations on power reactors into the Reactor Regulation Act.
Based on the Reactor Regulation Act, it is necessary to go through the following steps for the installation of a nuclear power plant (see Fig. 6): installation permit/amendment of permit, approval of construction plan and approval of operational safety programme.
FIG. 6. Regulations in installation of nuclear power plants.
3.2.3. Act on Prevention of Radiation Hazards due to Radioisotopes, etc.
The Act intends to prevent radiation hazards and ensure public safety by regulating use, sale, lease, waste management and other handling of radioisotopes, use of radiation generating apparatus and management of radioactive contaminants.
3.2.4. Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
The main purposes include:
Taking quick initial action and ensuring integrated cooperation between state and local governments;
Strengthening the national emergency preparedness system for responding to a nuclear disaster;
Clarifying the licensee’s role in preventing nuclear disasters.
3.2.5. Law on Compensation for Nuclear Damage
Nuclear energy enterprises (electric power companies) owe no fault liability for compensation to injured parties when nuclear damage is caused by the operation of nuclear reactors and the like. In such cases, liability focuses on the nuclear energy enterprises concerned.
Nuclear energy enterprises are compelled to deposit a fixed amount of money (maximum of ¥ 120 billion) to cover the cost of measures taken to compensate for damage:
To make insurance contracts for damage compensation with private insurers;
To execute an indemnity contract with the Government.
When damage is more than the amount deposited for compensation, the Government will assist if necessary.
3.2.6. Electric Power Development Promotion Tax Law
This law provides for collecting taxes used to fund the promotion of electric power development (according to electric power sold).
3.2.7. Special Account Law
This law is for clarifying the government accounts for the uses of the tax revenue.
3.2.8. Law for the Adjustment of Areas Adjacent to Power Generating Facilities
This law is for smoothly setting up generating facilities by the promotion of public institutions.
3.2.9. Law on Special Measures Concerning Promotion of the Development of Nuclear Power Sited Regions
This law promotes the development of nuclear power plant site regions by providing financial and other assistance, and protection against the spread of nuclear accidents.
3.2.10. Designated Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Act
The law prescribes the establishment of implementation for disposal, a funding mechanism for securing disposal costs, and a three-staged site selection process. The laws listed in Sections 3.26–3.2.10 are intended to promote electric power development by returning benefits gained for the whole country from a stable supply of electricity through the siting of a power plant to the local area.
INTERNATIONAL, MULTILATERAL AND BILATERAL AGREEMENTS
MAIN ORGANIZATIONS, INSTITUTIONS, AND COMPANIES INVOLVED IN NUCLEAR POWER RELATED ACTIVITIES
|National atomic energy authority|
|Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC)|
Cabinet Office, Central Government Building No. 8, 1-6-1 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|Regulatory authority|| |
|Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)|
1-9-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 3581 3352|
|Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)|
3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)|
1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 3501 1511|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)|
2-2-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 3580 3311|
|Corporations related to nuclear power|
|Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)|
765-1 Funaishikawa, Tokai-mura, Naka-gun, Ibaraki
|Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Inc. (JAIF)|
9th Floor, Kotohira Tower, 1-2-8 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 6812 7100|
|Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI)|
Otemachi Building,1-6-1, Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 3201 6601|
|World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO)|
Tokyo Centre, Igarashi Building 2-11-5 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 6722 5900|
|Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC)|
1-3-2, Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc. (HEPCO)|
2, Higashi 1-chome, Odori, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
|tel.: (+81) 11 251 1111|
|Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. (TOHOKU)|
1-7-1 Honcho, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
|tel.: (+81) 22 225 2111|
|Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO)|
1-1-3, Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 6373 1111|
|Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. (CHUBU)|
1 Higashi-shincho, Higashi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi
|tel.: (+81) 52 951 8211|
|Hokuriku Electric Power Co., Inc. (HOKURIKU)|
15-1 Ushijima-cho, Toyama-shi, Toyama
|tel.: (+81) 76 441 2511|
|Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. (KEPCO)|
3-6-16 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka
|tel.: (+81) 6 6441 8821|
|Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc. (CHUGOKU)|
4-33, Komachi Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
|tel.: (+81) 82 241 0211|
|Shikoku Electric Power Co., Inc. (SHIKOKU)|
2-5, Marunouchi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
|tel.: (+81) 87 821 5061|
|Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. (KYUSHU)|
2-1-82, Watanabe-Dori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka
|tel.: (+81) 92 761 3031|
|Japan Atomic Power Co., Inc. (JAPC)|
5-2-1, Ueno Taito-ku, Tokyo
|tel.: (+81) 3 6371 7400|
|Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL)|
4-108, Okitsuke, Obuchi, Rokkasho, Kamikita-gun, Aomori
 NATIONAL DIET OF JAPAN, The Official Report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission: Executive Summary, National Diet of Japan (2012).
 JAPAN ATOMIC INDUSTRIAL FORUM, INC., Nuclear Power Pocket Book 2014.
Ms. Yu Arai
Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
tel.: (+81) 3 3501 1991
fax: (+81) 3 3580 8447