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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO: The Japanese government says it may cut the 
number of nuclear power plants to be built over the 
next decade. Karrin Amodeo in Tokyo reports Japan is 
undertaking a sweeping review of its energy policy.
TEXT: Growing public mistrust of nuclear power, 
coupled with a decrease in national energy consumption 
led to Friday's announcement.
The government says it is questioning its plans to 
build 20 more nuclear power stations over the next 10 
Trade Minister Takashi Fukaya acknowledged that among 
the reasons is the growing opposition to nuclear 
energy in Japan. It is the first time the government 
has publicly stated that popular
sentiment could curb the expansion of nuclear power 
The question of how many atomic plants Japan needs is 
a sensitive one. Because it is poor in natural 
resources, Japan relies heavily on nuclear energy. 
Fifty one atomic plants provide one third of the 
country's electricity. In some areas of the country, 
nearly everyone has a friend or relative who works at 
a nuclear plant.
But along with the economic benefits of jobs have come 
the series of accidents and scandals that have 
continually plagued the industry here.
Public suspicion of atomic energy reached new heights 
after Japan saw its worst-ever nuclear accident last 
September. One worker was killed
and more than 400 local residents were exposed to 
radiation following an explosion at the Tokaimura 
processing plant.
Friday's decision echoes what energy experts and anti-
nuclear activists have long said -- that Japan's 
target for nuclear expansion is too
Figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry show 
that Japan is using less electricity for the first 
time in 16 years. The decline is attributed to the 
economic slowdown here. 
The overhaul of Japan's energy policy - starting in 
April - will take one year to complete.
But a key question remains: how Japan can keep its 
promise to cut greenhouse gases if it decides to use 
less nuclear power. The government
had planned to reach its target of a six per cent drop 
in emissions through the construction of atomic 
10-Mar-2000 05:36 AM EDT (10-Mar-2000 1036 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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