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On November 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and Department of Energy (DOE), and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and Ministry of Education, Sports, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT) announced a Memorandum of Cooperation concerning Research and Development and Industrial Cooperation in the Nuclear Energy Sector.

The Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was developed during the past year as a tangible sign of the Trump Administration’s commitment to peaceful nuclear cooperation with Japan, bilaterally and with third countries that wish to pursue nuclear energy as part of their energy mix.  It outlines the intent of the United States and Japan to cooperate on (1) nuclear research and development, including innovative reactors, (2) decommissioning and back-end fuel cycle management, (3) industrial cooperation for safety improvement, and (4) expansion of the global use of nuclear energy.

The Memorandum of Cooperation exemplifies the importance the U.S. Government attaches to strengthening commercial collaboration between U.S. and Japanese industry in areas like nuclear facility decommissioning.  The ongoing cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi site and Japanese utilities’ plans to shut down many of their nuclear reactors have created a need for American and Japanese companies to work together on D&D projects for decades to come.  A U.S.-Japan Industry Forum on Nuclear Facility Decommissioning, held August 7 in Tokyo, highlighted U.S. industrial D&D expertise and experience, and the benefits to both countries that would come from closer industry cooperation in this area.

The Memorandum of Cooperation is intended to strengthen commercial partnerships, resolve market barriers, support economic growth, job creation, and energy security, and enhance research and development to promote innovative reactor technology development.  It will serve as a foundation for United States-Japan nuclear energy cooperation going forward and reaffirms the strong history of collaboration between the United States and Japan on nuclear energy issues.  

Going forward, the four parties to the Memorandum will develop a plan of action with concrete steps that will be reported to leaders within the framework of the Japan-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership and the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue.