Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant and Nuclear Complex, Aomori, Japan

After over 20 years of safety concerns, project delays and huge costs, the controversial Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant is still scheduled to go ahead.


Rokkasho is a small village in Aomori prefecture in northern Japan. Historically it has been primarily a fishing town, however today it is more famous for its nuclear complex. This complex includes a uranium enrichment plant which started partial operations in 1992, a MOX (plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel) fabrication facility, a low level nuclear waste storage facility which opened in December 1992, a high level nuclear waste temporary storage facility, and lastly the Rokkasho reprocessing plant which began construction in 1993 and has now been delayed for the 24th time since then [1]. The central government of Japan has provided monetary compensation for the town of Rokkasho, including around 20bn yen in 1995, which was used to build a new gymnasium, museum and a golf course [6]. Apart from the monetary subsidies, the huge nuclear project owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) provided a lot of jobs for Rokkasho residents, thus making the entire village highly dependent on the nuclear complex. 

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Basic Data
NameRokkasho Reprocessing Plant and Nuclear Complex, Aomori, Japan
ProvinceAomori Prefecture
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Other
Specific CommoditiesPlutonium
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Rokkasho reprocessing plant is owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited. It has an annual capacity of 800 tons of uranium or 8 tons of plutonium. The spent nuclear fuel storage plant capacity is 3000 tons.

Construction of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant began in April 1993, however since then costs have gone up and the prospective completion date has been pushed forward 24 times due to increased safety checks, failure of completing required safety checks as well as increases in costs. It is now estimated that it will not be finished by September, 2018, which was the most recent goal.

Affected population (11,000) refers to the population of Rokkasho, which would be most directly affected in case of an accident.
Level of Investment (in USD)$25 billion
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population11,000
Start Date1985
Company Names or State EnterprisesJapan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) from Japan - Owner of plant
Relevant government actorsJapanese central government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace,

Stop Rokkasho,

The Ten Thousand Plaintiffs Coalition

Surfrider Foundation Japan,

Consumers Union of Japan,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is still ongoing despite protests.
Sources and Materials

[1] Karan, P., & Gilbreath, D. (2005). Japan in the 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society. University Press of Kentucky. Retrieved from

[9] Rokkasho Rhapsody 2006 (Documentary)
[click to view]


[5] The Japan Times 2008, 'Fishery, consumer groups say no to nuclear reprocessing in Rokkasho'
[click to view]

[2] 1992, 'Japan activists protest nuclear waste dump'
[click to view]

[3] The LA Times 1998, 'Ship carrying tons of nuclear waste barred from small Japanese port'
[click to view]

[4] The Economist 2012, 'Rokkasho and a hard place- Japan's nuclear future'
[click to view]

[7] Foreign Policy 2017, 'Tokyo and Washington have another nuclear problem'
[click to view]

[8] Wired 2007, 'Kraftwerk contribute track to Sakamoto's Stop-Rokkasho project'
[click to view]

[10] The Diplomat 2016, 'Why Japan's Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant lives on'
[click to view]

[11] The Japan Times 2017, 'Japan nuclear fuel skipped safety checks at Rokkasho plant for 14 years'
[click to view]

[6] The Independent 1995, 'Japanese nuclear dump poisons village goodwill'
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protest Postcards against Rokkasho reprocessing plant that were pre-addressed to the Prime Minister, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Governor of Aomori Prefecture and the Mayor of Rokkasho Village credit: Consumers Union of Japan
[click to view]

Protest against nuclear reprocessing plant in Rokkasho credit: Greenpeace
[click to view]

Graphic entitled 'I can't stop warning you' created by artist Shigeru Okada for the 'Stop-Rokkasho' art project
[click to view]

Photograph of Rokkasho by Mikiya Takimoto, part of the 'Stop-Rokkasho' art project
[click to view]

Protester with a STOP sign against Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant photo credit: Greenpeace
[click to view]

Protester with a STOP sign against Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant photo credit: Greenpeace
[click to view]

Painting entitled "Peace" by artist Yuko Kono as part of the 'Stop-Rokkasho' art project
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMariko Takedomi Karlsson, research intern @ EnvJustice, [email protected]
Last update06/11/2017