Japan's parliament Wednesday ratified a 30-year agreement with the United States, clearing the way for Japan to airlift large amounts of bomb-grade plutonium from Europe to use at nuclear plants.
The Japanese government plans to airlift the nuclear material non-stop over the North Pole without flying through U.S. territorial air space to avoid possible hazards caused by accident.
The new agreement will take effect this fall after Japan completes revision of related domestic statutes.
Nuclear fuel spent at Japan's 32 nuclear power plants is currently shipped to Britain and France for reprocessing and returned by ship with a "case-by-case" approval of the U.S. government.
Under the new agreement, Japan plans to airlift a total of 25 tons of reprocessed fuel from Europe over a 20-year period, starting in the early 1990s, government officials said.