Japan Govt Seeks Understanding from Genkai Mayor over Nuclear Waste Site Survey; Mayor Stresses Importance of Further Discussions

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Genkai Mayor Shintaro Wakiyama, left, speaks with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Ken Saito, second from right, at the ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Ken Saito met with the mayor of Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on Tuesday to seek his understanding on conducting a survey regarding the construction of a final disposal site in the town for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power generation.

In April, the Genkai assembly gave its approval for the survey to be conducted in order to examine the town’s suitability to host the final disposal site.

During Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at the ministry in Tokyo, Genkai Mayor Shintaro Wakiyama expressed his intention to continue looking into the feasibility of conducting the survey.

“I’ve been torn between the ideas proposed by the assembly and my own,” Wakiyama said.

Wakiyama said he had repeatedly opposed the idea of conducting a survey but took the decision of the assembly members, who represent the residents, very seriously.

The mayor also stressed the importance of expanding the debate nationwide.

“Since the selection of a disposal site is an important topic, I would like to do more to help the public better understand the issue,” Wakiyama said.

Saito said he would like to thank Wakiyama for continuing to consider the issue.

“I would like to actively provide any explanations and information regarding the issue,” Saito said.

The survey is the first part of a three-stage process to select the final disposal site.

On April 26, by a majority vote, the Genkai assembly adopted three petitions calling for the survey to be conducted. A senior official of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency then visited the town on May 1 and requested that the survey be conducted under Saito’s name.