Tom O'Sullivan Reports from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) 2023 Annual Conference

April 24, 2023

Tom O'Sullivan Reports from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) 2023 Annual Conference

TOKYO — April 24, 2023 — The 56th annual JAIF conference, April 18-19, was an excellent opportunity to reassess the importance of nuclear energy in an international context with representatives attending from South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Finland, Sweden, and Belgium among other attendees from other countries. Here, Anthropocene Institute partner Tom O’Sullivan of Mathyos Global Advisory shares his observations. Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), addressed the conference, as did senior representatives from the International Energy Agency in Paris. Mr. Shin Hosaka, the commissioner for the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), represented the Japanese government at the conference. Mr. Hosaka is Japan's most senior civil servant, dealing directly with energy issues. The conference also included representatives from the private sector, including Japanese utilities and nuclear manufacturing and supply chain companies. In addition, many of Japan's top universities were also represented, and several youth representatives were also present, underlining Japan's commitment to resourcing the next generation of leaders in this Industry.

The conference coincided with the G7 Energy and Environment ministerial meeting held in Sapporo, Hokkaido, and chaired by Japan's METI minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, on the previous weekend. Several of the participants at JAIF also attended the G7 energy event that successfully argued for increased use of nuclear energy technologies in the G7 and global energy mixes. Here is a link to the G7 communique that included a commitment to nuclear power.

The JAIF conference also included representatives from Fukushima Prefecture, which was impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. They provided an update on the decommissioning progress of the Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima.

The immediate priority for Japan is restarting seven reactors that have already received Nuclear Regulatory Authority approvals at five locations around Japan, including two reactors in East Japan. These latter two would be the first restarts in Eastern Japan after the 2011 earthquake. Japan's CO2 emissions in 2022 increased by three percent yearly, so restarting these reactors is a priority for the world's third-largest economy to meet its 2030 international climate commitments.

The consensus at the conference was that global nuclear power output would need to increase two to four times by 2050 to meet climate goals.

New advanced reactor technologies were also discussed at the JAIF conference, including Advanced Light Water Reactors, Small SMRs, High-temperature Gas Reactors, Fast Reactors, and Micro Reactors. Increased industrial use of nuclear power was also discussed, as was floating nuclear power.

Here is a link to the full conference agenda.

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