IAEA Press Release
Background InformationSelected Media Reports from the IAEA Daily Press Review
Japan is a founding member of the IAEA (1957) and a major contributor to Agency programmes and activities.
With two plants under construction, there are 53 operational nuclear power plants, which supplied just under 36% of Japan’s electricity in 1998.
The IAEA International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) is a logrithmic scale used to rate nuclear accidents from 1 to 7. Like the Richter scale for measuring earthquakes, INES is a scale for helping people gauge the seriousness of an event. Nuclear events are rated using several criteria, most importantly whether or not their is a chance that radiation could spread outside of the facility involved. The 1986 Chernobyl accident was rated as a major accident- level 7. The Japanese government has assigned a preliminary level 4 to yesterday’s accident at the Tokai-Mura Conversion Plant - an accident without significant off-site risk.
In July 1987, Japan became party to the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, which requires its parties to notify the Agency should any nuclear event pose radiation risk beyond their national boundaries. Although notification was not required for the Tokai-Mura accident, the Japanese government notified the Agency on 30 September and has maintained continuing close contact since then.
The IAEA maintains a service for nuclear emergencies. Once notified of a situation, the Agency will disseminate information and provide technical assistance as requested by Member States.