Japan and USA form strategic partnership for fusion

11 April 2024

The new partnership brings together the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to work to accelerate the demonstration and commercialisation of fusion energy. The announcement was made during a visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the USA.

(Image: DOE)

Announced by US Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk (pictured above left), and Japan's Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama (pictured above, right), the partnership intends to focus on advancing the US Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy and Strategy for International Partnerships in a New Era of Fusion Development, as well as the Japan Fusion Energy Innovation Strategy.

It will leverage a long history of Japan-US collaborative activities in the area of fusion covered by the Coordinating Committee on Fusion Energy (CCFE), which was established in 1979 and is currently implemented under a 2013 intergovernmental agreement. The two countries are also both participants in the ITER multinational fusion project.

The partnership is expected to further develop complementarity between US and Japanese resources and facilities in fusion, including those in universities, national laboratories and private companies in the respective countries. It will focus on six pillars:

  • Address the scientific and technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion energy for various fusion systems
  • Explore opportunities for shared access and/or development of facilities required for fusion research and development
  • Promote the international harmonisation of regulatory frameworks and codes and standards, including leveraging of rule-making efforts by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as ongoing discussions under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agile Nations Fusion Energy Working Group
  • Identify and support the development of resilient global supply chains that facilitate commercial fusion deployment
  • Support public engagement with communities to facilitate a social licence for deploying fusion energy and to support an equitable clean-energy transition
  • Promote skills development to ensure the people and talent growth necessary for the robust, inclusive and diverse workforce required by the fusion sector in the next decade and beyond.


Joint statement

In a joint statement issued during the official visit, Kishida and US President Joe Biden said Japan and the USA, through the strategic partnership, "are further leading the way in developing and deploying next generation clean energy technology, including fusion energy development".

They reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating the global transition to zero-emissions energy, and outlined steps they are taking towards this goal, including the launch of a new high-level dialogue on how the two countries implement their respective domestic measures and maximise their synergies and impacts.

According to a White House factsheet on the official visit, as well as the fusion initiative, the two nations "acknowledge the need to expand and modernise power grids and energy infrastructure" to support clean energy and "look to expand the use of market-based power purchase agreements by companies and industries to assist access to clean energy, including from both large nuclear reactors and advanced and small modular reactors (A/SMRs), as they attempt to meet their own decarbonisation goals and drive innovation in power intensive industries such as Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing, and data centres".

"The United States applauds the prime minister’s plan to restart nuclear reactors to meet its 2030 decarbonisation goals," the factsheet notes. "Our two countries acknowledge the transformational opportunities presented through our continued cooperation on A/SMRs, and affirm our continued partnership on joint efforts both bilaterally and multilaterally to deploy A/SMRs this decade.

"Our two countries plan to launch the Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning partnership with Tokyo Electric Power Company and US national laboratories to deepen research cooperation for the steady implementation of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, especially for fuel debris retrieval. Recognising the important role of nuclear energy to both accelerate the energy transition and enhance energy security, the United States and Japan also resolve to promote public-private investment in enriched uranium production capacity free from Russian material."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News