To: Representative Benjamin A. Gilman
Committee on International Relations
House of Representatives
Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20515

From: Members of the Japanese Diet (signatures attached)

March 4, 1999

Dear Representative Gilman:

We are writing to you concerning the shipment from Europe to Japan of MOX (mixed uranium-plutonium oxide) fuel expected to take place in the coming months. We have seen a copy of your February 11, 1999 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressing your concern about the transportation plan and security measures being considered for this shipment and wish to express our agreement with and support of your letter.

The MOX fuel is planned to be used in Fukushima Prefecture by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) and in Fukui Prefecture by KEPCO (Kansai Electric Power Company). However, the approval process for the MOX use has not yet been conclcuded. In Fukui Prefecture, although the national government has approved MOX fuel use for the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 and 4 reactors, Governor Yukio Kurita has not given his required approval. In the case of Fukushima Prefecture, Governor Eisaku Sato has said that he will grant approval for MOX use in Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1-3 once the national government has given approval, but that approval has not yet been given.

As you know, Japanese nuclear power plants, based on U.S. technology, were designed to utilize uranium fuel, not MOX. As uranium is currently plentiful and far more economical than MOX, there is no urgency and only questionable justification in using MOX fuel in Japanese nuclear power reactors.

We are particularly concerned that the level of physical protection measures for this transport, containing weapon-usable plutonium, is inadequate. Both Japanese electric utilities and the Japanese government are primarily motivated by keeping the visibility of the shipment low and by reducing costs. If security concerns were primary, this shipment would be escorted by the Shikishima, a Maritime Safety Agency ship which was constructed at great expense specifically to escort this type of shipment.

We are also concerned that the Japanese government and electric utility officials are obscuring the fact that MOX contains weapon-usable plutonium which can be easily extracted. These same officials also leave vague the feasibility of use of reactor-grade plutonium in weapons, a point that the U.S. Government has been very clear on. The truth is that MOX can be diverted for nuclear weapons use and must be protected with this fact in mind.

As you stated in your letter, we are also concerned about the serious security issue to be addressed with this MOX shipment as it is indeed the first of many to come. It is thus important to set the proper precedent for any future shipments. Given this, the lack of urgency of use of the fuel in Japan, the serious concern for security in transit and environmental safety concerns by en route countries, we feel that it is of utmost importance that the security plan be thoroughly deliberated by all involved parties, including the U.S. Congress.

We look forward to the briefing for your committee by the U.S. State Department and hope that a similar briefing is scheduled for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We further hope that the U.S. Department of Defense will conduct an in-depth review of the security plan and present its review to your committee. Ultimately, we hope that common sense prevails, that the security plan is modified, and that this shipment goes forward only with the rigorous escort this type of shipment demands.

Thank you very much for considering our views on the MOX shipment. We wish you all success in your role as head of the International Relations Committee and appreciate your interest in this matter.



House of Councillors
Democratic Party

House of Concillors
Social Democratic Party

Seiichi KANETA
House of Representatives
Democratic Party

House of Representatives
Democratic Party

Yukihisa FUJITA
House of Representatives
Democratic Party

House of Representatives
Democratic Party

cc: Representative Sam Gejdenson
Ranking Minority Member
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on International Relations

Senator Jesse Helms
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Joseph Biden, Jr.
Ranking Minority Member
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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