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Japan's nuclear power strategy needs a rethink

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The Monju fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture   © Kyodo

TOKYO Japan appears wedded to its vision for nuclear fuel recycling, despite losing a crucial piece of the puzzle with the likely mothballing of the Monju fast-breeder reactor prototype. The time has come for open debate on the nation's long-term nuclear energy policy.

Fast-breeder reactor technology, which uses recycled nuclear fuel and produces more plutonium than it consumes, was long considered the ideal solution for a country with scant natural resources. But by the end of the year, the government is expected to decide to decommission the Monju reactor in western Japan's Fukui Prefecture. The reactor has been plagued by safety issues.

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