TOKYO, Sept 21 Japan is likely to scrap a
prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor in the country's west
that has operated for less than a year in over two decades,
local media reported on Wednesday.
More than 1 trillion yen ($9.84 billion) of mostly public
money has been injected into the Monju facility, but Japan's
nuclear regulator last year declared its operator unfit
following years of accidents, missteps and falsification of
The government is also grappling with a wave of anti-nuclear
sentiment among its population in the wake of the Fukushima
Tokyo believes it would be difficult to gain public support
to spend another 580 billion yen on the project over the next 18
years if the reactor was restarted, the Nikkei business daily
and Mainichi newspaper said, without citing sources.
A government official did not immediately respond to a
request for comment from Reuters. The reactor's operator, the
Japan Atomic Energy Agency, declined to comment.
Science Minister Hirokazu Matsuno, Trade Minister Hiroshige
Seko and others will hold a meeting on nuclear issues on
Wednesday, with media reporting that they will likely decide to
shift policy away from developing the fast-breeder reactor.
A formal decision to decommission Monju is likely to follow
by year-end after talks with local governments, the Nikkei and
The call to decommission Monju has been growing in the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with scant results from using
around 20 billion yen of pubic money a year for maintenance
Located 400 km (250 miles) west of Tokyo, the 280-megawatt
reactor was designed to burn plutonium refined from spent fuel
at conventional reactors to create more fuel than it consumes.
That process that was seen promising for a country whose limited
natural resources force it to rely on imports for virtually all
its oil and gas needs.
With all but three of Japan's 42 commercial reactors still
shut as a result of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, there is little
meaning to the costly exercise of extracting more plutonium from
spent fuel, critics say.
The Yomiuri newspaper said Japan would continue to
co-develop a fast breeder technological demonstration reactor
that has been proposed in France.
Japan will also continue research at its first experimental
fast-breeder reactor, Joyo, a predecessor of Monju, the Nikkei
($1 = 101.5900 yen)
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Joseph Radford)