International symposium held in Hiroshima on protection and security of nuclear material

by Kenichiro Nozaki, Staff Writer

A symposium on the theme of nuclear security was held on June 27 at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. The symposium was organized by Hitotsubashi University; Stanford University, a U.S. institution; and an executive committee composed of officials from the Hiroshima prefectural and municipal governments. Concerning the protection and security of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities, four experts from Japan and abroad exchanged ideas on counterterrorism measures and tighter control of nuclear substances.

Before an audience of 74 people, Scott Sagan, a professor at Stanford University and an expert in nuclear security, said that nuclear power plants in Japan have not implemented sufficient measures to guard against terrorism. Laurence Williams, a professor of physical sciences at the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom, stressed the importance of entities which regulate the construction and operation of nuclear power plants acting independently and exercising strong leadership.

Robert Rosner, a professor of physics at the University of Chicago, a U.S. institution, said that workers at nuclear power stations require considerable knowledge and skill in order to deal with contingencies in their assignments.

Tatsujiro Suzuki, the vice-chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission at the Cabinet Office, referred to the nation’s stockpile of plutonium, which could be used to create nuclear weapons. On the plutonium being extracted through the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, Mr. Suzuki said that Japan should reduce the amount of plutonium it holds, reprocessing only what is needed.

The symposium was part of the “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan, formulated by the prefectural government. The prefectural government of Hiroshima and Hitotsubashi University concluded an agreement in February 2012 to cooperate in the field of international peace, and this symposium was organized jointly with Stanford University, which is collaborating on research involving nuclear security.

(Originally published on June 28, 2013)