As an industrialized and affluent nation in Asia, Japan has the advanced technology and a mature market of the nuclear industry. However, after the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese nuclear industry has stagnated until last year when Sendai Nuclear Power Plant restarted operation.
Today, the global nuclear industry is boosted by a large demand from developing countries including China, South East Asia, Middle East, Africa. Japan also announced their ambition to overcome the difficulty caused by the Fukushima disaster and to play an important role in the nuclear industry in the future. What are Japan’s advantages in the global nuclear industry in 2016?
- Abundant Experience in the Nuclear Industry
Japan started research on the nuclear energy since the 1950s and it constructed its first nuclear power plant in 1963 which was a boiling water reactor and decommissioned in 1976. In the past 5 decades, 55 reactor units have been built in Japan and they provide 30% of the power in Japan in 2011. For example, TEPCO, which is the biggest electric power company, owns and operates 17 nuclear reactor units.
In the nuclear industry, when it go for a bid, experience is always a big issue need to be considered. That is why when China wants to export its technology, China always constructs one demonstration plant first to increase the credibility.
- Integrated Nuclear Industry Structure
Japan has one of the most sophisticated industrial foundation in the world which is also applicable for its nuclear industry. Few countries in the world like Japan has the capability of the entire nuclear supply chain including nuclear reactor design, nuclear equipment manufacturing, nuclear fuel cycle management, nuclear power plant operation and maintenance.
For example, Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant was designed and constructed, and will also be maintained by Japan Atomic Power Company which is a company formed up by Japanese utilities such as TEPCO and Hitachi Ltd, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries company. Therefore, for most of developing countries like Vietnam that does not has sufficient local industry to support the nuclear energy, countries have integrated nuclear industry are more easily to take the market.
- Complete Legislation on the Nuclear Industry
The first law about the nuclear energy in Japan was issued in 1955. In the long history of the nuclear development in Japan, the legislation on the nuclear energy was completed step by step. Compared to China whose nuclear legislation is still left as blank, a complete legislation system allows the Japanese nuclear industry has a specification of standards.
- Active Foreign Policy for Nuclear Business
Japan is deeply involved in the global nuclear industry and as such is banking on exports of nuclear power plants. The Japanese big corporation Toshiba owns 87% of Westinghouse, Hitachi and Mitsubishi have tie-ups with GE and Areva which means that Japanese firms are major players in nuclear energy.
Besides, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a longstanding advocate of nuclear energy. In Japan, he pushed the country to restart its nuclear power plant. Globally, he is the pitchman of the Japanese nuclear industry. Japan signed Memorandum of Understandings on nuclear energy with Turkey, UAE, and India when Abe visited each of them. Furthermore, the Abenomics of fiscal stimulus and monetary easing policy will also encourage the export of Japan’s nuclear industry.