Nonproliferation
Resource
Fact Sheet

Spent Nuclear Fuel in Japan

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Japan

  • June 1, 2020
  • 9:23 pm

Highlights

18,398 MTU spent nuclear fuel in storage (2017)
35,518 MTU spent nuclear fuel projected by 2050
1966 First year of commercial nuclear operation
9 operating nuclear power reactors
3 operating research and test reactors
24 power reactors awaiting restart authorization
35.95 GW(e) installed nuclear capacity (2019)
6.2% nuclear share of domestic energy production (2018)

Regulator: Nuclear Regulation Authority (since 2012)
Power Operators: 9 companies

Nuclear Power stations in Japan (as of 2019)

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Practices

  • From 1969 to July 2001 approximately 7,100 MTU of spent fuel were exported to the UK and France for reprocessing
  • SNF is stored wet or partially dry at each NPP and an independent interim storage facility; 3,393 metric tons are also stored at Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, which has not yet begun commercial operation
  • Research reactor fuel is either returned to the U.S. or reprocessed
  • Japanese fuel cycle research areas include advanced reactors that could impact fuel reprocessing decisions, including high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and fast breeder reactors

Obligations

  • Japan has had an IAEA safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/255) since 1977, and an additional protocol since 1999
  • Japan acceded to the Joint Convention in 2003
  • Reprocessing is a stated part of Japan’s SNF management policy
  • The Japanese government stated in the 2014 Strategic Energy Plan its intent to expand SNF storage, especially intermediate and dry
  • The Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Implementation Act lays out the reprocessing plan, which promotes plutonium use in light water reactors
  • Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO) is the entity responsible for HLW and SNF disposal
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