Senior officials from the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan (AEC), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) expressed support for strengthening engagement with the NEA and collaborating further in the area of nuclear safety, decommissioning, nuclear education, science and research. The discussions were held during an extensive mission to Japan, which took place virtually from 17 May to 10 June 2021.
During the virtual visit to Japan, NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV and senior staff held a series of meetings with the aforementioned ministries and various authorities and institutions, including the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), Japan Nuclear Safety Institute (JANSI), Atomic Energy Association (ATENA), Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC), Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ), Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
Nuclear energy could be an important part of Japan’s electricity mix in the efforts to meet the country’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. In this context, the discussions covered a wide range of issues, including the decarbonisation of electricity systems, long-term operation of nuclear power plants and nuclear skills and capacity building. The discussions also touched on the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident and the achievements in Japan and the global nuclear community in the decade since the accident.
Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, NEA research projects supported by participating member countries and the Japanese government have delivered cross-cutting safety research across a wide variety of topics. These initiatives support both decommissioning research and development activities in view of the extraction of fuel debris and waste processing, and the improvement of scientific understanding and modelling capabilities addressing severe accident progression and consequences. The NEA will continue the successful collaborations forged in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident to seek further, experience-based enhancements to global nuclear safety and to facilitate the implementation of advanced systems in radioactive waste management, decommissioning and legacy management.
During the virtual mission, dialogues were also held with the University of Tokyo on nuclear education and gender balance in STEM fields. The NEA stands ready to support Japan in developing future generations of nuclear experts, through its initiatives such as the Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework, the Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy and International Mentoring Workshops.