Next-Gen Nuclear Power – A Joint Effort By Japan & The US

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio from Japan happened to be on an official state visit to the United States in the first half of 2024 with quite a firm eye on highlighting the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance when it comes to Asia. Kishida’s trip marks the first state visit by a Japanese premier to the U.S. in nine years.

Kishida is most likely to move forward with joint economic as well as security projects with the Philippines as well as the United States as clashes between Beijing and Manila go on to escalate in the South China Sea. It is, as a matter of fact, the first time the countries will go on to meet for a trilateral summit.

The visit happened to give Kishida an international platform to go ahead and highlight Japan’s vision when it came to Japan-U.S. relations, as he faces quite an uncertain political outlook at home. The fact is that his public support rate hovers almost at a record low in between the looming Liberal Democratic Party leader elections, which are going to take place in September 2024.

Kishida called the much-anticipated summit with U.S. President Joe Biden on April 10, 2024 as a meeting of two global partners who happen to be tackling global challenges. This was also followed by three-way talks between Biden, Kishida, as well as Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in order to discuss developing multilayered ties.

In addition to this, Kishida also went ahead as well as addressed the U.S. Congress, making him the second Japanese leader to achieve this feat after his predecessor, the late Abe Shinzo, in 2015. When asked about the theme of the Congress speech, Kishida opined that his remarks happened to discuss broad issues as well as the importance of future generations.

Japan happens to be taking a more proactive stance when it comes to countering maritime aggression that happens to comes from Beijing consistently. It is on its way up to boost its presence across the region through bolstering cooperation with the Philippines. Kishida went on to tell the reporters in Japan that no country across the Southeast Asia welcomes being backed into a corner when it comes to diplomacy as well as security. He also talked about presenting Japan as one of the valid options in significant areas such as the economy in Asia by way of showing its presence as well as taking on the responsibility.

Although the security emphasis of Kishida’s U.S. trip has indeed been pretty widely commented upon, another element has been less discussed, and that’s cooperation when it comes to nuclear power.

In December 2024, Kishida went ahead and announced that Japan was indeed ready to lead decarbonization endeavors across the Asian region so as to go ahead and in fact achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Taking all this into account, the country has gone on to back a U.S.-led declaration to elevate the world’s nuclear energy capacity by 2050, disappointing proponents that happen to push for 100% renewable energy.

For Japan as well as the United States, a next generation nuclear power plant is indeed the answer in terms of phasing out Asia’s dependency on the fossil fuels. As part of its trilateral cooperation, both the US as well as Japan will facilitate the development of miniature nuclear power plants named as Small Modular Reactors- SMRs in the Philippines.

The fact is that, at present, the country struggles with the challenges pertaining to chronic power outages. It goes on to depend pretty heavily on coal, which happens to generate 60% of its electricity. Marcos is looking to restart the only nuclear power plant facility in the Philippines, which was constructed but was immediately abandoned in the 1980s. The government looks forward to getting it operational again by 2032.

It is well to be noted that the next generation nuclear plants, such as the SMRs, happen to be considered much safer as well as cheaper as compared to their predecessors. But the U.S. start-up manufacturing technology company NuScale Power went on to cancel its plan to go ahead and construct an SMR facility in Idaho in November 2023. They happened to explain the project, which, by the way, would have been the first in the United States to be economically unfeasible, since the inflation and increased construction expenditure meant the price of energy that was generated by the plant would be very high.

Apparently, Japan has gone on to shift its policy in terms of nuclear power since the devastating 2011 tsunami as well as the earthquake disaster that hit the country. High-tech nuclear power happens to be linked to Kishida’s Green Transformation- GX strategy, which looks to balance decarbonization having an economic growth. Japan will go on to support the project by way of research and specialist personnel.

There also happen to be plans for Japan to go ahead and open up one of the semiconductor bases in the Philippines. And what would get in return? Well, the Philippines will go on to boost its supply when it comes to nickel, which happens to be quite essential as far as the manufacturing of batteries is concerned.

It is well to be noted that behind the scenes, in terms of bolstering economic ties, happens to be a rapidly deteriorating situation within the South China Sea. Nations such as Japan, the United States, Australia, as well as the Philippines recently went on to stage their first joint naval drill across the disputed but also resource-rich South China Sea. The exercise happened to include anti-warfare submarine training, along with certain communication drills as well as sailing in formation.

The fact is that while Kishida looks forward to emphasizing the significance and priority of the Japan-U.S. relationship throughout the rest of the world, the fresh trilateral cooperation happens to be a concerted effort in order to show one of the united fronts against Beijing and the depth as well as the relevance of an international society, which Japan looks forward to realizing.