A division head at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy instructed a subordinate in April 2004 to conceal the estimated costs for disposing of spent nuclear fuel without reprocessing it, sources involved in the case and a memorandum have revealed.
An April 20, 2004 memorandum, which the Mainichi Shimbun has recently obtained, states, “The subordinate notified director Yasui yesterday of the existence of the estimate. The director ordered the subordinate to ‘keep it away from the eyes of the general public.'”
The cover-up is essentially similar to a case in which some high-ranking government officials hid a 2002 Russian diplomatic document in which Moscow offered to accept spent nuclear fuel from Japan, in that both helped promote the reprocessing of radioactive waste at a plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.
Under the current government policy, all spent nuclear fuel is supposed to be reprocessed. However, if the data had been disclosed, it would have revealed that dumping nuclear waste is far cheaper than reprocessing it and could have spurred calls on the government to review its so-called nuclear fuel recycling policy.
Masaya Yasui, who was director of the agency’s Nuclear Power Policy Planning Division when he instructed his subordinate in April 2004 to conceal the data, currently serves as counselor in charge of reform of nuclear power safety regulations. In other words, the official who ordered the cover-up of the data is now responsible for working out safety measures at nuclear plants following the accident at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
However, now that it has recently come to light that the data was deliberately concealed, the ministry is obliged to reinvestigate the case and reconsider punitive measures against the officials involved.
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