Resolution Calling to Review the Policy for Geological Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste and Fulfill the Responsibility of Realizing a Sustainable Society for Future Generations
It is essential to realize a sustainable society so that current and future generations can lead a healthy and cultural life in an environment that is in good shape. Both the use of nuclear energy which inevitably produces radioactive waste and the climate crisis as a result of global warming will pose a burden and risk to future generations, and they are not compatible with a sustainable society.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (the “JFBA”) expressed its concerns about the danger of nuclear energy as early as 1976. But in 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident occurred. After the accident, the JFBA has consistently opposed the use of nuclear energy which poses a serious threat to human life, personal safety, and the environment by adopting the resolution calling for decommissioning of all existing nuclear power plants as soon as possible at the 56th JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 2013, as well as the declaration calling for the withdrawal of the policy to geologically dispose of high-level radioactive waste at the 57th JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 2014.
Furthermore, the JFBA has published the “Proposal from the JFBA on Preventing Global Warming” in August 1997 and pointed out that the climate crisis is a serious human rights issue in “Declaration for Protecting Future Generations from the Danger of Global Warming” adopted at the 52nd JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 2009; “Declaration to Aim for a Sustainable Society Averting Climate Crisis” adopted at the 63rd JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 2021; and “Opinion on Achieving Decarbonization by 2050 without Dependence on Nuclear Energy” published in June 2021, etc. Accordingly, the JFBA has consistently called for the avoidance of the climate crisis as a result of global warming and, as a pathway to achieve decarbonization (cutting carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero) by 2050, setting the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more below 1990 levels (or 55% or more below 2013 levels), and increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the power mix to 50% or more by 2030, and to 100% by 2050.
Nevertheless, the government has maintained its stance regarding nuclear power generation, positioning it “an important base load power supply” in the Sixth Basic Energy Plan which was approved by the Cabinet on October 22, 2021. Furthermore, the Plan states that thermal power generation will be maintained to be used to a considerable extent even in 2050, severely lacking in sufficient efforts toward denuclearization and decarbonization. It is necessary to strengthen efforts in line with the aforementioned declaration and opinion paper adopted at the 63rd JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 2021.
The problem with nuclear power generation is that it not only poses dangerous risks but also continues to produce high-level radioactive waste that is hard to dispose of as long as it exists, which is totally unacceptable. The high radioactivity level of high-level radioactive waste can last for a long period of time and, based on the current scientific and technical knowledge, it is hard to carry out the geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Japan in a way that will continue to ensure safety in the future. In order to decide the policy on the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, it is necessary to hold national discussions based on the progress in scientific and technological knowledge and intergenerational ethics.
To avoid the climate crisis and realize a sustainable society without depending on nuclear power, it is necessary to tackle the energy problem as a country as a whole and it is also important for the local governments to make the best of the resources in their hands and further promote proactive efforts toward sustainable communities.
For the reasons above, the JFBA proposes as follows:
- 1. The national and local governments should decide policies regarding climate crisis issues and energy and nuclear policies while taking into consideration intergenerational fairness and the human rights of future generations, without fixating on pursuing short-term interests and addressing short-term challenges.
- 2. The national government, nuclear power plant operators, and nuclear fuel reprocessing plant operators should implement the following measures regarding high-level radioactive waste including spent nuclear fuel:
- (1) The nuclear fuel cycle involving the reprocessing plants, etc. is to be immediately abolished, and
- (2) The total amount of spent nuclear fuel is to be fixed by abolishing nuclear plants as soon as possible. All of the spent nuclear fuel shall be disposed of and not reprocessed.
- (3) The “Specified Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Act,” which was enacted on the premise that geological disposal would be used as a means to dispose of radioactive waste, is to be withdrawn for the time being and a new legal system with a new framework on the disposal of radioactive waste, including its temporary storage, is to be set up to implement the following. Discussion shall be initiated and carried out by the meeting body of the new legal system in order to clarify the responsibility of current generations. The disposal policy shall be based on agreements under the system.
- (a) The meeting body shall have a high degree of independence. The members shall be chosen so that diverse opinions and academic knowledge can be reflected, while ensuring openness and transparency.
- (b) The opportunity for citizens to express their opinions shall be provided while disclosing sufficient information. Also, the rights of citizens to participate and know shall be protected by making records of the course of discussion publicly available so that the decision-making process can be examined on a later occasion.
- (c) Through discussion within the meeting body, multiple options and the risk and safety associated with each option shall be explored. The reliability and uncertainty of scientific and technical information related to the discussion shall be stated in a way that it can be properly understood as such.
- (d) In order to protect the right of future generations to decide and to prevent their interests from being unjustly infringed on, a system shall be set up to enable periodic review on the disposal policy and a complete overhaul of the existing policy at any point.
- 3. The national and local governments shall implement the following measures so that the local governments can realize sustainable local communities by making the best of local resources in their hands without having to rely on subsidies from the government in relation to nuclear power plants, radioactive waste disposal sites, etc. in their communities.
- (1)The local governments shall not only ensure the participation of residents and information sharing with residents but also emphasize the active participation of business operators and residents in revitalizing their communities, while also establishing a positive cycle of the local economy led by the communities, including the local production of energy for local consumption.
- (2)The national government shall stop promoting policies to facilitate wide-area coordination in a form that infringes on the group autonomy of the local governments, and develop legal and financial systems that allow the local governments to carry out various efforts on their own.
The JFBA is determined to continue making tireless efforts to achieve what is stated in this resolution, aiming to fulfill the responsibility to leave a sustainable society to future generations.
We resolve as above.
September 30, 2022
Japan Federation of Bar Associations