Hokkaido Town Eyes Referendum over Selection as Nuclear Waste Disposal Site

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The town of Suttsu in Hokkaido, where a so-called literature survey for nuclear waste disposal is underway, is seen in March 2022.

The municipality of Suttsu, Hokkaido, intends to hold a referendum to determine whether to move to the next stage in being selected as a final disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste, Mayor Haruo Kataoka told The Yomiuri Shimbun on Friday.

In November 2020, a so-called literature survey — the first step of the three-stage process — began in Suttsu. In February this year, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) released a draft report saying that the town can be a “possible candidate site” for nuclear waste disposal. Kataoka had stated that his municipality would not make a decision on proceeding to a preliminary investigation, the second stage of the process, until a third municipality, other than Suttsu and Kamoenai, a village in Hokkaido where the literature survey is also being conducted, accepts the literature survey.

After the mayor of Genkai, Saga Prefecture, announced the town’s acceptance of the literature survey on Friday, Kataoka said, “I want to express my respect and gratitude for the decision.”

Kataoka also expressed his hope that discussions on disposal sites for nuclear waste will spread further and be held outside of Hokkaido. While observing the development of such discussions, Suttsu intends to conduct a referendum in June or later after holding study sessions for residents and discussions by experts.