Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Challenges in the Civilian Use of Nuclear Energy and Japan’s Role
August 4, 2022
The Study Group on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Security (chaired by Professor Tatsujiro Suzuki, Nagasaki University), established by the Security Studies Program of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, has published a set of urgent recommendations entitled "Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Challenges in the Civilian Use of Nuclear Energy and Japan’s Role.”
Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with two of the country’s nuclear power plants—Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia—seized by Russian troops. These Russian attacks on nuclear power plants shocked the world, not only because they constituted a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions and an IAEA General Conference resolution, but also because there was a real danger that the slightest misstep could lead to a devastating disaster involving a massive release of radioactive substances.
Considering that Russia's actions should not be overlooked, the Study Group decided to make recommendations to the Japanese government on issues in international law concerning the protection of nuclear power plants, and propose ways for Japan to protect nuclear facilities at home and abroad.
Together with European and other countries, Japan has requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Russia for war crimes and violations of international treaties. The Japanese government should provide full support to the ICC investigation. In addition, it should play a leading role in international efforts to identify and address shortcomings in the existing international conventions banning military attacks on nuclear facilities, in particular, expediting efforts to identify the true nature of the Russian attacks on nuclear facilities by drawing on the experience and lessons of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO).
The Japanese government should reconsider the current assumptions regarding the physical protection of nuclear facilities in Japan and call on the international community to work together to step up efforts to further strengthen nuclear security.
Recommendation 3: In light of the loss of Russian credibility in the international community, it is imperative to explore a new framework for international cooperation in order to ensure the safety of the existing nuclear facilities and secure nuclear fuel supply capabilities. Japan needs to become involved in this international effort by identifying areas where it can contribute.