Supporters of an amendment quietly slipped into Japan’s nuclear power law saying it should contribute to “national security” are denying it could provide cover for military use of nuclear technology.
The provision, which says nuclear safety should be guaranteed not only to defend lives, people’s health and the environment but also to “contribute to Japan’s national security,” became part of the Atomic Energy Basic Law on June 20.
Critics say the change to the 1955 basic law, known as the “constitution” of nuclear energy use in Japan, was made without proper debate on the sidelines of political maneuvering in the Diet.
However, it could have far-reaching consequences for Japan’s nuclear stance and heighten international concern about the nation’s nuclear recycling program of extracting plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.
A provision mentioning a “contribution to Japan’s national security” was also included in the Aerospace Basic Law of 2008, which fueled calls to use artificial satellites for defense purposes.
A law enacted on June 20 to establish a new nuclear regulatory commission to replace the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency also said the commission should “contribute to Japan’s national security.” None of the changes were widely discussed before they were passed by the Diet.