Rokksho Protest

Yesterday, 21 December, the testing using depleted uranium was officially started at the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant.

Isami Kojima, President of Japan Nuclear Fuel said that it is a great step for the reprocessing at the press conference at the main office in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture. You will see the photo of him at

The Japanese article from the Yomiuri is

Local groups together with citizens groups including Greenpeace Japan or CNIC in Tokyo protested in a severe cold with snow. Main media reports the starting of the testing and points some problems of reprocessing, but does not give any information about the protest. Most of them also ignore the international protest from 153 organizations/individuals from 30 countries/region.

Plutonium Action Hiroshima immediately released a statement against the testing.

CNIC has given a detailed information about the testing as you see in the end of this message.

I am deeply impressed with your support to the protest from around the planet. Thank you very much for joining this hard work to protect the environment and to prevent catastrophe. I will use this open letter in many occasions in the future.

The operator expects the starting up of the reprocessing in 2006, but we think there will be a lot of troubles to be found before then. We don't lose hope, and let' continue fighting!

Best wishes for happy Christmas and brighter new year!

Satomi Oba

Uranium trials officially commenced this morning (Tuesday 21st) at Japan's first commercial reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.

The unloading of thirty-one tons of depleted uranium at Mutsu-Ogawara Port on the morning of Monday 20th was greeted by protests from people concerned about the risks of proliferation and radioactive pollution posed by the operation of the plant. The concerns held by 80% of the citizens of Aomori remain unresolved and there is still no prospect of using the 40 tons of plutonium that Japan already owns, let alone the plutonium that will be extracted at Rokkasho. Inevitably it will just be added to the existing stockpile. By moving this one step closer to commencing commercial operations at Rokkasho, Japan is going against the commitment it made to the international community to not hold excess stockpiles of plutonium*.

Although the trials have officially started, all that really means at this stage is that the depleted uranium has been moved from the storage area to the area where it will be dissolved in nitric acid.

Active trials using live spent fuel are planned to begin in December 2005 and the plant is scheduled to commence operations in July 2006, but if past experience is any indication, problems will arise during the trials and schedules will be delayed.

Links to a couple of related articles have been posted on our 'commercial media' page:


*This commitment was originally made in 1993 to reassure the international community in regard to its shipments of plutonium and it appears in basic policy documents since then.

Philip White
International Liaison Officer


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Dezember 2004

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