Japan’s Quest for Nuclear Energy and the Price It Has Paid - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128179604, 9780128179611

Japan’s Quest for Nuclear Energy and the Price It Has Paid

1st Edition

Accidents, Consequences, and Lessons Learned for the Global Nuclear Industry

Authors: Noriko Behling Thomas Behling Mark Williams Shunsuke Managi
eBook ISBN: 9780128179611
Paperback ISBN: 9780128179604
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 28th March 2019
Page Count: 371
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Japan’s Quest for Nuclear Energy and the Price it has Paid: Accidents, Consequences, and Lessons Learned for the Global Nuclear Industry identifies major accidents in Japan that have happened at different stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in Japan, assesses the underlying causes of nuclear accidents, and identifies other systemic problems in the nuclear industry. It provides recommendations on how government, industry and academic institutions can work together toward achieving a zero-accident safety culture.

Key Features

  • Reviews the history of Japan’s nuclear programs and commercial activities from the 1950s to the present
  • Describes the underlying causes of major accidents that have afflicted Japan’s nuclear industry, along with consequences, including technical difficulties, costs and program delays
  • Outlines the evolution of nuclear policies promoted by competing bureaucracies and how these rivalries influenced program priorities and impeded safety


Scientists and engineers in the nuclear industry, at research labs, and those serving as operators in the field. Also intended for government policymakers dealing with nuclear issues in Japan and policymakers in other countries that have nuclear power programs

Table of Contents

PROLOGUE Power and Disaster

Purpose of the book and explanation of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

CHAPTER 1 Beginnings: Japan Aims High

1.0 Motivations for Energy Independence

1.1 Laying the Foundations for Nuclear Power in the 1950s and 1960s

1.2 The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Sets Priorities

1.3 Creation of the Science and Technology Agency (STA)

1.3.1 The STA’s R&D Organizations The Atomic Fuel Corporation (AFC) The Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI), Incompetent handling of union disputes

1.4 The Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC)

1.5 Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC), A Caretaker Agency

1.6 Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)

1.7 The Rise of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) (formerly the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, MITI) and the Fall of the Science and Technology Agency

1.8 Japan’s Nuclear Policymaking: Irregularities and Lack of Transparency

CHAPTER 2 Successes and Failures of Big National Projects

2.0 Japan’s Big National Projects

2.1 Uranium Mining, Exploration and Enrichment

2.1.1 Ningyo-toge Pilot Enrichment Plant and Prototype Enrichment Plant

2.2 Advanced Thermal Reactors (ATR) and Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR)

2.2.1 Advanced Thermal Reactor Fugen

2.2.2 Fast Breeder Reactors Experimental FBR Joyo Prototype FBR Monju

2.3 Reprocessing

2.3.1 Tokai Prototype Reprocessing Plant

CHAPTER 3 Commercialization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

3.0 Struggling Over Priorities, Technical Challenges and Breaking Ground for New Plants

3.1 Commercialization of the Front-End Nuclear Fuel Cycle

3.1.1 Tragedy Strikes the JCO Fuel Preparation Plant

3.1.2 Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Company (MNF) Fuel Fabrication Plant

3.1.3 Nuclear Fuel Industries (NFI) Fuel Fabrication Plants

3.1.4 Global Nuclear Fuel—Japan (GNF-J) Fuel Fabrication Plant

3.1.5 A merger of NFI, GNF and MNF

3.1.6 Rokkasho Enrichment Plant (REP)

3.2 Commercialization of the Back-End Nuclear Fuel Cycle

3.2.1 The Fight for the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (RRP) Use of Immature Technology Causes Major Delays at the RRP

3.2.2 Rokkasho MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant (J-MOX)

CHAPTER 4 The Build-Out of Japan’s Nuclear Power Industry

4.0 The Worldwide Reactor Boom

4.1 Japan Chooses Light Water Reactors (LWRs) for Power Generation

4.2 Coping with the Global Oil Crisis and Marketing the Expansion of Nuclear Power

4.3 Effects of the Dengen Sampo on Nuclear Reactor Constructions

4.4 Problems with Management of the Dengen Sampo

4.5 Effects of Dengen Sampo Subsidies on the Local Economy

CHAPTER 5 The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

5.0 The Scope of the Disaster

5.1 Consequences and Costs

5.2 Underlying Causes of the Fukushima Disaster

5.3 Japan’s Response to Fukushima

5.4 Confronting the Larger Problem: A History of Accidents

5.5 Loss of Trust in Japan’s Nuclear Safety Practices

5.5.1 The Breadth of Japan’s Seismic Geology

5.5.2 Vulnerability of Japan’s Nuclear Plants to Earthquakes

5.5.3 Scrutiny of Power Plant Seismic Hardening

5.6 Other Reasons Why Japan Has So Many Nuclear Accidents

5.7 Status of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)

CHAPTER 6 Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal

6.0 False Starts

6.1 Near-Term Waste Management

6.2 Nuclear Waste Classification and Disposal System

6.3 Government Efforts to Establish Deep Underground Disposal Repository

6.4 Private Sector Interest in Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities

6.4.1 Recyclable Fuel Storage Company (RFS)

6.4.2 Rokkasho Radioactive Waste Storage Facility

6.4.3 Rokkasho Low-Level Waste (LLW) Disposal Center

6.4.4 Rokkasho High-Level Waste (HLW) Storage—Vitrified Waste Storage Center (VWSC)

CHAPTER 7 Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities

7.0 Magnitude of the Challenge

7.1 Japan’s Experience in Decommissioning Reactors

7.2 Keeping Pace with the Growing Volume of Radioactive Waste

7.3 Challenges in Decommissioning Magnox Reactors

7.4 Challenges in Decommissioning Fukushima Reactors

7.5 Increasing Cost of Decommissioning and the Quest for Funds

CHAPTER 8 Status and Health of Japan’s Nuclear Industry

8.0 A False Dawn

8.1 Status of Japan’s Nuclear Reactor Fleet

8.2 The Nuclear Industry’s Declining Business Base

8.3 Flagging Public Support for Nuclear Power

8.4 Recruiting New Employees from a Shrinking Talent Pool

CHAPTER 9 Achieving a Zero-Accident Nuclear Culture

9.0 Basic Costs of Building and Operating a Reactor Fleet

9.1 Cost and Frequency of Accidents

9.2 Total Costs

9.3 Implementing Effective Safety Measures

8.3.1 The Rickover Approach to Safety

8.3.2 Challenges in Creating a Safety Conscious Work Force

8.3.3 Practical Incentive System for Safety

8.3.4 The Human Dimension

9.5 Prospects and Final Thoughts

APPENDIX A: Cancelled Nuclear Power Reactors

APPENDIX B: Impact of Accident Costs on Cost of Power (in MWh)

APPENDIX C: Acronyms and Abbreviations


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About the Author

Noriko Behling

Noriko Behling

Ms. Behling graduated from Tokyo University of Education in Japan with a BA in philosophy. As a Fulbright scholar, she studied linguistics at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Hawaii, where she earned an MA degree and undertook graduate work toward a PhD.

She worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as a senior analyst and information officer for 20 years. She produced research papers and current assessments in many policy areas, including defense, science and technology, economic policy, and trade issues. Ms. Behling analyzed functional and technical issues, including program analysis, risk assessment, program cost estimation, and global science and technology developments.

She also worked in the private sector for ten years, providing consulting services and analytic support to the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community in the areas of information technology, nuclear energy, and global environmental technology policy issues, including fuel cell technology, low emission vehicles, and hydrogen energy technology. She assisted the National Security Council to formulate two major R&D policy initiatives implemented by the Department of Energy, the FreedomCar Initiative and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative.

Affiliations and Expertise

Retired from the US Government. Senior Analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and CENTRA Technology, Inc.

Thomas Behling

Thomas G. Behlilng is a former Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Defense Department and analyst of science and technology policy. He has served for over 40 years at the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Department of Defense. He is retired from government service.

Affiliations and Expertise

Former Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Defense Department and analyst of science and technology policy

Mark Williams

Prof. Dr. Mark C. Williams is a scientist and engineer. He authored more than 225 articles in the energy and engineering fields. He is also a program manager of hundred-million-dollar programs for the U.S. Department of Energy and a major US corporation serving the nuclear industry. He is a fellow and adjunct professor in USA, China and Japan.

Affiliations and Expertise

Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

Shunsuke Managi

Prof. Dr. Shunsuke Managi is a professor of technology and policy at the Kyushu University, Japan. He has been awarded several national research grants on topics such as transportation, energy, climate change, sustainability, and population change. He is the author of "Technology, Natural Resources and Economic Growth: Improving the Environment for a Greener Future", published by Edward Elgar Publishing.

Affiliations and Expertise

Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

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