Key findings:

  • Publicly, the United States has said little about Japan’s plans to enlarge its existing stockpile of plutonium. But since President Obama was elected, Washington has been furiously lobbying behind the scenes, trying to persuade Japanese officials that terrorists might regard the Rokkasho plant as an irresistible target
  • Japan has resisted upgrading its security force or requiring background security checks for the 2,400 workers there, similar to those in the U.S.
  • Confidential U.S. diplomatic cables note police officers who are asleep, express chagrin that Japanese guards do not carry weapons and criticize the government for staging unrealistic training exercises, while relying too heavily on what its nuclear utility companies decide to do.
  • Japan’s prime minister at the time of the Fukushima disaster — Naoto Kan — said “Japan is not prepared for such attacks.”
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency is formally responsible for ensuring that plutonium does not leak from the Rokkasho plant without detection. But the system it has installed there is only 99 percent accurate, meaning that enough plutonium for 26 nuclear bombs a year could still be removed without a trace.
  • Companies with ties to the yakuza, or Japanese organized crime syndicates, are heavily involved in the nuclear industry.