New Japanese policy clarifies govt. role in nuclear waste burial

Japan's Cabinet has adopted a new basic policy on nuclear waste disposal, clarifying the government's commitment to finding final burial sites for high-level radioactive waste.

Under current law, highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants is required to be buried in final disposal sites at a depth of more than 300 meters, in a method called "geological disposal."

First-stage surveys to select viable candidate sites for the process began in two municipalities in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido three years ago. But no other areas have emerged as candidates.

The Cabinet on Friday approved the new basic policy, which has been updated for the first time in eight years.

It clarifies that the government will tackle the selection of final disposal sites on its own responsibility.

It says government officials will visit municipalities nationwide, along with representatives of the government-backed Nuclear Waste Management Organization and utilities that operate nuclear plants.

The officials will aim to encourage more municipalities to become candidates for first-stage surveys.