Japanese Town Vies for World’s First Fusion Reactor

With all the Not In My Backyard squabbling that takes place over nuclear energy facilities, it’s tough to believe that some communities actually invite nuclear power into the neighborhood. But that’s exactly the hope of Rokkasho-mura, a tiny fishing village in Japan that wants to house the world’s first fusion-based nuclear reactor. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, a joint venture among the U.S., China, Russia, South Korea, the European Union, and Japan, plans to choose this weekend between building the reactor in Rokkasho-mura or its rival, the French town of Cadarache. The $12 billion project hopes to use nuclear fusion — the kind of reaction that takes place inside the sun — to provide clean, efficient power. The Japanese town, which is about 370 miles north of Tokyo, cites its proximity to a port, its plentiful water supplies, and its “good solid ground” as proof that it would be the best home for the project. But critics say the patchy safety record of the Japanese nuclear industry is a major cause for concern.