The upper house of Japan's parliament (House of Councillors) on 11 May passed into law a bill establishing a new used fuel reprocessing contributions system for the Japan's nuclear operators to replace the previous 'deposit system'. It requires nuclear operators to contribute "all necessary funds and "more specifically their approximate estimates thereof for reprocessing", according to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif).
The contributions will be made to a new juridical entity, the Spent Fuel Reprocessing Organization (SFRO). The new entity "will ensure that stable funding is unaffected by such things as an individual operator's business considerations", Jaif said. The new structure also establishes a "system of proper governance".
The law was enacted in anticipation of major changes in the business environment surrounding nuclear power which will follow the full deregulation of Japan's power retail market. "It is also an effort to avoid hampering the development of the reprocessing business owing to difficulties in securing stable funding," Jaif said.
Makoto Yagi, chairman of Japan's Federation of Electric Power Companies, said his member companies would fulfil their responsibilities as used fuel generators, and "would not only contribute the necessary funds but would also fully cooperate as nuclear operators" in establishing the SFRO. Last year, the government decided on a new policy 'action plan' for dealing with Japan's used nuclear fuel.