Village with roughly 100 wind turbines

On October 25, 2017, the "energy tourism" project's first monitor tour was conducted in Rokkasho-mura, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Just over 10 visitors from Aomori City and other places toured around a national oil storage station and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd's Visitors Center for nuclear fuel cycle facilities as well as wind farms (large-scale wind power plants) and mega- (large-scale) solar power plants on a tourist coach.

Hosted by the Rokkasho-mura Tourist Association, this event was jointly planned by organizations such as the village's Department of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and Shin-Mutsu-Ogawara Inc (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo), which sells in blocks the large-scale "Mutsu-Ogawara" industrial park in Rokkasho-mura.

"Rokkasho-mura has Japan's largest-class energy-related facilities, including the largest mega-solar plant in Japan with nearly 100 wind turbines and 510,000 solar panels, and an oil storage station that can provide an equivalent amount of oil to Japan's consumption for a week," said Tsugio Oikawa, chairman of the village's tourist association.

"We hope to emphasize our industrial tourism based on these facilities," he said, expressing his enthusiasm to the tour participants (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Several wind farms and Japan's largest mega-solar plant are in Rokkasho-mura, Aomori Prefecture. (source: Nikkei BP)

With a lot of nuclear facilities such as a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and a high-level radioactive waste storage management center, Rokkasho-mura is financially blessed with subsidies associated with these facilities from the national government. However, these factors are not equally beneficial in terms of economy for primary industries such as agriculture, dairy farming and fishing. In addition, the prospects of the village are growing uncertain with the completion of a reprocessing plant seriously lagging behind schedule.

Following the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Line, Rokkasho-mura aims to energize the local community, including its primary industries, by attracting tourists through "energy tourism" that highlights large-scale renewable energy facilities and promoting local specialties at the same time.