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- Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, January 14, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Nuclear Fuel Cycles
Q: My question is about nuclear fuel cycles.
Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) is at the core of fuel cycles, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority once again voiced dissatisfaction with JNFL's responses to the authority’s examinations when they exchanged views recently.
First, as METI is promoting nuclear cycles, please share your opinions from METI's point of view on Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited as its facilities' completion target for the first half of FY2022 approaches.
Also, please tell us your opinions on the fact that local governments have been calling upon METI to expedite the materialization of nuclear energy policies, including nuclear cycles.
A: I understand that the day before yesterday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority and Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited exchanged views on efforts toward Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant's completion of construction and subsequent operation. I have also read the minutes and understand that various opinions and points came up, but I believe it was a straightforward exchange of views.
For Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, it is important to first ensure that current safety examinations and construction for countermeasures are properly carried out. Taking into account the discussions held two days ago and other factors, I hope that they make their utmost efforts to complete construction of the reprocessing plant in the first half of FY2022.
The government will continue to work toward establishing nuclear fuel cycles with the understanding of local municipalities and the international community on the underlying premise of ensuring safety.
Q: It was recently reported that the isolation period for close contacts will be shortened, and I think that the most difficult issue within METI's jurisdiction will be that the Omicron variant spreading will make it hard for the power and gas sectors that support industries to continue their operations. I would like to ask for both your opinions on this and what METI plans to do for such infrastructure companies, if you have any direction to share.
A: In response to COVID-19, power and gas companies have formulated Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) based on the Act on Special Measures against Novel Influenza, etc. Based on the said plans, these businesses have secured personnel to maintain the functions of critical facilities such as power plants, power supply control centers, and gas manufacturing plants. They are also implementing initiatives to continue their operations based on their plans.
As a familiar example, I also understand that petrol stations are making efforts to continue their operations by introducing measures such as staff rotation systems and shortened business hours as long as they won't hamper fuel supply, based on the guidelines for COVID-19 prevention at petrol stations.
A stable energy supply is essential for the citizens of Japan during this difficult winter. We have called on these energy-related businesses to continue operations and ensure a stable energy supply, even with COVID-19 spreading. METI will continue to make every effort to secure a stable supply of energy.