Sasebo mayor expresses concern about nuclear vessels
SASEBO, Japan — Sasebo Mayor Akira Mitsutake last week called for local consideration prior to any future nuclear-powered vessel visits to Sasebo Naval Base.
The comment came after the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, or MEXT, reported finding trace amounts of radioactivity in water samples at Yokosuka Naval Base taken after a visit by a nuclear-powered submarine.
Mitsutake said the Navy should “be considerate of port visits” by nuclear-powered ships and submarines until the ministry investigates the Yokosuka situation further.
The mayor asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday to determine the cause of the incident at Yokosuka and to release the results to Sasebo city, said Setsuo Kuga, the city’s base affairs division chief.
The mayor also asked MOFA to create a nuclear-power safety fact sheet for Sasebo residents similar to one produced this year for Yokosuka city and to urge the Navy to participate in nuclear ship disaster drills that the Sasebo city has been conducting since 2002.
The mayor also asked MOFA to request that the Navy lift a ban imposed after Sept. 11, 2001, that prevents the city from notifying residents of impending nuclear- powered ship visits to Sasebo.
The Navy issued a statement earlier last week saying it is investigating the MEXT findings. Navy officials had no comment following Mitsutake’s statement.
Stars and Stripes reporter Juliana Gittler contributed to this story.