Yesterday I was reading about the seeming paradox of Japan being a nation with extensive nuclear power infrastructures but no nuclear weapons.
I must say that there have been suspicious events in Japan's history that have called Japan's purported absence of a nuclear weapons system into question.
I am going to write briefly about those suspicions because they illuminate another issue that is currently ongoing in Japan, that is, the status of the Tokai nuclear reactors.
First of all here is a headline from 1988:
JAPAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM STRESSES BREEDERS, PLUTONIUM AND SAFEGUARDS..Authors:Sweet, William.
Source:Physics Today; Jan88, Vol. 41 Issue 1, p71-74, 4p.
[MAJIA HERE] Second, Japan processed its plutonium at Tokai. Despite processing its own plutonium, in the early 1990s Japan started purchasing and stockpiling plutonium from other countries. Below find an article that is critical of Japan's efforts to purchase plutonium from France and England and ship to the US
Takagi, Junzaburo & Nishio, Baku (1990). Japan’s Fake Plutonium Shortage. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 46(8), 34-38.
The article explains that the Japanese have no fuel shortage problem because they have been refining it for its “research reactor projects. Until now, the fuel has been produced mostly in the Tokai reprocessing plant, which began operating in 1977” (p. 34).
The authors were criticizing Japan for plans to receive shipments of plutonium from France and Britain. The shipments were scheduled to start in 1992 and would cost Japan 20 billion yen ($130 million) to ship.
[MAJIA HERE] Third, despite international criticism Japan continued on with its plans to purchase plutonium from half way around the world:
Article “Abandon Shipments” (1992, Oct).New Scientist;10 /10/92, Vol. 136 Issue 1842, p8
ABSTRACT" Reveals that renewed pressure has been levied against Japan for it to abandon its plan to ship 30 tons of plutonium from France to fuel its nuclear power program. First ton of fuel expected to be shipped later this year; Criticism by leaders and epresentitives of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sea Shipments of Japanese Plutonium; Most Pacific nations appear reluctant to tackle Japan head-on.
MAJIA HERE: the US allowed Japan to accumulate all this plutonium, despite significant accidents with the reprocessing and breeder reactors:
United States Circumvented Laws To Help Japan Accumulate Tons of Plutonium By Joseph Trento, on April 9th, 2012 National Security News Service http://www.dcbureau.org/201204097128/national-security-news-service/united-states-circumvented-laws-to-help-japan-accumulate-tons-of-plutonium.html
[Excerpt from Trento] "Thirty years ago even Japan’s harshest critics might have agreed that perhaps it could succeed where Western efforts had failed. But that optimism soon faded as a string of nuclear catastrophes demonstrated that nuclear industries are far different than any other. Both the Monju fast-breeder reactor in 1995 and the Tokai reprocessing plant in April 1997 suffered serious, accidental radiation leaks; both accidents were the subjects of attempted cover-ups. Most egregious was the fire and leak of radioactive sodium at the Monju FBR. Japan’s Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC), the government corporation that operated Monju, lied repeatedly to the public about the accident. PNC attempted to suppress video footage that showed the cause of the accident: a ruptured pipe in a secondary cooling system that had spilled an estimated two to three tons of radioactive sodium – the largest such leak in the history of fast-breeder technology. One of the reasons PNC gave for releasing the misinformation was that Monju was too important to Japan’s energy program to jeopardize the reactor’s operation. In other words, the public’s safety was secondary to the breeder program."
MAJIA HERE: For these reasons, some believe that Japan actually does have a secret nuclear weapons program
Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant?
U.S.-Japan security treaty fatally delayed nuclear workers' fight against meltdown
by Yoichi Shimatsu Global Research, April 12, 2011 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?aid=24275&context=va
Yoichi Shimatsu who is Editor-at-large with the 4th Media is a Hong Kong–based environmental writer. He is the former editor of the Japan Times Weekly. This article is first appeared in the New American Media.
MAJIA HERE: Certainly, the stockpiling and processing of plutonium and the insistence on breeder reactors raises eyebrows. Japan's historic animosity with China provides the motive.
HOWEVER, even after setting aside speculation about whether Japan has a nuclear weapons program, we are left with an alarming situation at Tokai.
TOKAI is one of the reactors that has suffered damage. It is also the location for reprocessing of plutonium and has been for many years. This raises the question about what is really going on at Tokai?
[Alvarez 3/13/2011] “Meanwhile, Unit 2 of the Tokai nuclear complex, which is near Kyodo and just 75 miles north of Tokyo, is reported to have a coolant pump failure. And Japan's nuclear safety agency has declared a state of emergency at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan because of high radiation levels. Authorities are saying its three reactors are "under control. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-alvarez/meltdowns-japan-earthquake_b_835121.html
Meltdowns Grow More Likely at the Fukushima Reactors March 13, 2011 · By Robert Alvarez
The reactor at Tokai has leaked radioactive water and suffered a fire
"Low-level radioactive water leaks at Tokai nuclear plant"The Mainichi Daily Newshttp://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120320p2g00m0dm015000c.html
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- [excerpted] "Some 1.5 tons of low-level radioactive water leaked from a storage tank of a nuclear reactor in the process of decommissioning at Japan Atomic Power Co.'s plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Monday..."
Enenews: Fukushima Report Introduced by Top Official Hosono: “Other reactors are all in considerably severe condition” — 14 total; Dai-ni, Onagawa, Tokai — “Extreme situations, though not much has been broadcast” (VIDEO)
MAJIA HERE: A few weeks ago someone posted a comment at Enenews warning about the status of the reactor at Tokai. The person warned that it could very well explode this summer and the explosion, if one occurs, would be visible from space.
On the one hand, this comment is purely speculative.
On the other hand, when one starts looking at the history of the reactors at Tokai one sees that history is deeply entwined with plutonium production, breeder reactors (which are inherently unstable) and, potentially, nuclear weapons development.