Senior members of the Japanese government said that Japan’s plans for the use of MOX fuel “must happen”. The government will initiate educational and information programmes to win wider public acceptance of nuclear energy in Japan.

Parliamentary secretary for economy, trade and industry Akira Matsu told the opening session of the annual conference of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF): “The MOX programme must happen, and the government will continue its efforts in this regard.” Matsu referred to last year’s referendum in Japan’s Kariwa village, in which residents rejected the possible use of MOX at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. She said that a “plu-thermal consultative board” has been formed following the referendum to ensure “that each and every Japanese citizen thinks about nuclear power.” However, she told nuclear industry leaders that ‘mechanisms’ alone would not be enough in securing wider public acceptance of nuclear energy, adding: “People in the front line must feel keenly and show commitment to the importance of safety.” Also at the conference, Japan’s science and technology minister Atsuko Toyama underlined the need for Japanese nuclear officials to do more to demonstrate their commitment to safety. She said: “The foremost importance in moving the nuclear energy problem forward is for you to have a sense of alertness.” She warned that even a minor incident risked causing major fear among the general public, and she pledged that the government would conduct continuous dialogue with the public, including the launch of a major energy education programme for schoolchildren, backed up with support materials and organised visits to nuclear facilities.