Perhaps more than any other country in the world, Japan has had to confront serious challenges in its nuclear power sector. Following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, enormous investments have been made to ensure that nuclear power plants can operate safely in a range of conditions, and the country has been working to gradually rebuild its nuclear sector as well as the confidence of its population.
With growing public support for nuclear power, influenced by concerns for climate change and energy security, the Japanese government are taking steps to increase nuclear power in the country, with a goal for nuclear power to make up 20-22% of the country’s energy share by 2030. To ensure a long and successful future, the sector will need a large and well-trained workforce and harnessing the interest and support of future generations will be key.
As part of the Nuclear Energy Agency’s ongoing work to educate and mentor students about the opportunities that the nuclear sector can offer, NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV and Deputy Director-General Nobuhiro Muroya visited Toyama high school in Japan to talk the students about the meaningful contributions that a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), especially in the nuclear sector, can make to issues such as climate change mitigation, energy security and economic prosperity around the world.
NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV talking to students at Toyama high school in Japan.
As part of the classroom discussions, they also talked to the students and teachers about the need to resolve issues related to gender imbalance in STEM careers and highlighted the NEA’s work to try and improve the participation of women in the nuclear sector.
The NEA has worked closely with Japan over the last decade to help mentor students on the opportunities of pursuing a career in STEM, and looks forward to welcoming this group of students in France in 2024 on a field trip to learn more about the nuclear sector.
During the NEA’s mission to Japan, Director-General Magwood and Deputy Director-General Muroya attended Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics (IEEJ) symposium on Global Principles and Practices of Nuclear Regulatory Framework, where Director-General Magwood delivered a presentation which addressed risk evaluation of natural disasters, capacity factor improvement and effective governance by regulators.
“Effective governance by the regulators in the past has relied on the long history of working with a narrow range of technologies. Moving forward, effective governance by regulators will require them to embrace innovation and fundamentally new reactor technologies that do not share the same long history,” remarked Director-General Magwood.
NEA Deputy Director-General Nobuhiro Muroya discussing careers in STEM with high school students in Japan.
The NEA delegation also attended the Tokyo Institute of Technology where Director-General Magwood spoke to students about the NEA’s strategy to improve gender balance in the nuclear sector, and highlighted some key findings from a new report which will be launched on 8 March, 2023.
“The fact that so few women enter nuclear science and technology fields and fewer still climb to leadership roles is a terrible loss of a resource that is desperately needed,” highlighted the NEA Director-General during the discussion.
For more on the NEA's work with Japan and lessons learnt following the Fukushima Daichii accident, visit here.