Japan looks to ratify liability accord

13 December 2013

Japan intends to introduce legislation to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). Japan's ratification of the CSC will bring the international convention on liability into force.

Most countries with nuclear power have been party to international conventions addressing third party liability for nuclear accidents - either the IAEA's Vienna Convention or the OECD's Paris Convention and developments of these - as well as their own national laws. Nevertheless over half the world's reactors remain outside of the Paris and Vienna conventions (notably those in the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea and China).

In 1997, IAEA parties adopted a Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), an instrument to which all states may adhere regardless of whether they are parties to any existing nuclear liability conventions or have nuclear installations on their territories. The convention is not yet in force.

In order to pass into force the CSC must be ratified by five countries with a minimum of 400 GWt of installed nuclear capacity, an amount that translates as about 130 GWe or a little over one-third of all currently operable reactors. The convention has so far gathered seventeen signatories but insufficient ratifications to bring it into effect. As well as the USA, it has also been ratified by Argentina and Romania. 

The Japanese government has now indicated its intention to introduce legislation to ratify the CSC. Up to now, Japan has stood apart from international conventions and has relied on its own two laws covering nuclear liability. Canada is also working towards ratifying the convention.

Japan's minister for foreign affairs Fumio Kishida said, "I will work to submit the CSC and related bills to the Cabinet at an appropriate time next year."

In August, the USA and France committed to encourage other countries to adhere to current treaties, and to bring the CSC into force. The two countries had previously held fundamentally incompatible views, each championing a favoured existing treaty as the basis for an expanded regime.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News