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Vietnam’s Nuclear Dreams Blossom Despite Doubts via The New York Times

HANOI, Vietnam — Inside an unheated classroom at the Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology here about 20 young government technicians from Vietnam’s incipient nuclear power industry kept on their winter jackets on the first morning of a 10-day workshop on radiation.

The workshop, sponsored by the semigovernmental Japan Atomic Energy Agency, started with Radiation Physics 101. The students then collected radiation samples with the help of Japanese specialists and analyzed them in a lab built by Japan.

With the memories of the Fukushima disaster still raw in Japan, the Japanese government’s active role in selling nuclear plants to developing nations like Vietnam has drawn sharp criticism. Critics say that the government and nuclear industry’s joint efforts are reminiscent of the kind of collusive ties that led to the Fukushima disaster. The government’s low-interest loans — taxpayers’ money — will benefit only politically connected plant manufacturers, they say.

“When it comes to selling nuclear plants, it’s not a commercially viable business, so you invariably need the injection of public funds,” said Kanna Mitsuta, a researcher for both Friends of the Earth Japan and Mekong Watch, a Japanese private organization.

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