Japan and the US are collaborating on next-generation nuclear reactors

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Japan and the United States on Monday agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in developing next-generation nuclear reactors during energy ministerial talks.

Japanese Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm also agreed at their meeting that Tokyo and Washington will work more closely on securing liquefied natural gas and other energy security issues.

Japanese Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (2nd from front right) and US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm (3rd from front left) hold talks in Washington on Jan. 9, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ) (TBEN)

According to a joint statement, Japan and the United States will step up cooperation in developing and building next-generation advanced reactors, including small modular reactors, “within each country and third countries”.

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The two governments already announced a plan in October to work together to help Ghana introduce small nuclear reactor technology.

Speaking to reporters after Monday’s talks, Nishimura said the US responded positively to Japan’s recent policy change to boost decarbonization.

The Japanese government said last month in a change to its nuclear energy policy following the Fukushima crisis that it would be allowed to renew old nuclear reactors if necessary. It will also extend the operational limit of aging nuclear reactors beyond 60 years.

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“We will explore opportunities for collaboration (with the United States) to make full use of existing reactors and create stronger supply chains,” said Nishimura, who serves as the economy, trade and industry minister.

The two countries are expected to reaffirm cooperation when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Joe Biden meet in Washington on Friday.

The statement said the two governments agreed to maintain consistent regulation across all energy sources in response to the impact of the Russian war on Ukraine.

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US authorities have given final approval for more than doubling current natural gas export capacity.

Nishimura and Granholm agreed that it is important for the Group of Seven Industrialized Countries under the Japanese Presidency of the G7 this year to make concerted efforts to accelerate the clean energy transition and ensure energy security consistent with the achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, a target set in the UN Roadmap for Climate Action.