Japan willing to offer Ukraine nuclear assistance
The Japanese government can offer its help in dealing with radiation leaks or other nuclear incidents if this occurs in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Monday during a regular news briefing.
The diplomat said that an incident at one of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors could take place due to the ongoing hostilities, and if that happens, Japan can share its expertise which it gained after dealing with the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown of 2011.
The safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants was thrust into the spotlight in news reports on at least two occasions amid Russia’s military action in the country. At one point, Russian troops advancing from Belarus took control of the area surrounding the site of the defunct Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
There were concerns about the safety of the shelter structure erected over the plant’s ruined block to contain the radioactive materials inside. The external power supply to the on-site equipment was interrupted last week, but has since been restored, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on Sunday. Backup diesel generators kept the equipment operational while Chernobyl remained off-grid.
The safety of the Zaporozhskaya Nuclear Power Station – the biggest in Europe – was also called into question after a fire was reported at the facility in early March. The blaze was quickly contained and did not pose an actual threat to the reactors. Moscow and Kiev accused each other’s troops of causing the incident.
Access to the facility remains under Russian control, but Ukrainian staff operate it with Russian nuclear specialists observing, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator reported to the IAEA.
The physical safety of Japan’s own nuclear power plants may soon be boosted. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told lawmakers on Monday that the idea of specialized nuclear protection which already exists in the Fukui Prefecture seems reasonable and could be expanded to the entire country.
“The act of violence by Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, just shows how much we need a new framework of the international order,” he said.
The governor of Fukui Prefecture, which hosts 15 reactors, called on the Defense Ministry last week to deploy troops to guard the nuclear facilities, citing the fighting in Ukraine.
“Operating reactors should never come under attack,” Tatsuji Sugimoto said.