Japan's Nuclear Gamble Ignites A White Hot Debate

Eighty-five miles north of Tokyo, in a labyrinth of sealed rooms separated by radiation detectors and security posts, Japanese government researchers in white coveralls and yellow boots experiment with one of the deadliest substances on earth: plutonium. Wearing thick rubber gloves, they reach into acrylic boxes and mix the toxic element with uranium, making black pellets that will burn in nuclear-reactor cores. Here, at the Tokai nuclear research center, squabbles over the wisdom of stockpiling atom-bomb material are irrelevant to engineer Masayuki Iwanaga. "I hope politics doesn't interfere with technology," he says.

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