The Japan government and industry are joining in a double-team promotion of nuclear power plants in Asian export targets.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is leading the drive to better compete with overseas rivals, such as France, which is conducting aggressive public-private campaigns.
The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) organised a meeting this summer with the Vietnamese government to study nuclear power plant projects.
“We are prepared to send nuclear experts from Japan to help Vietnam train government regulators, researchers and plant operators,” a JETRO official said at the meeting.
Vietnam plans to build two nuclear power reactors between 2017 and 2020.
A senior industry ministry official said the government plans to establish cooperative relationships in safety regulations and other areas where the government is involved.
The official added that such relationships will help domestic nuclear power plant contractors enter the Vietnamese market.
The government’s promotion of nuclear power plants started in spring.
The industry ministry sent delegations to Vietnam and Indonesia in March. The missions included representatives from nuclear power plant contractors and electric power suppliers.
The delegates asked what the two countries expect from Japan through meetings with ministers and executives at electric utilities and other companies.
When Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Indonesian minister of energy and mineral resources, visited Japan in July, Toshihiro Nikai, then industry minister, proposed support for Indonesia’s nuclear power plant projects.
Indonesia plans to build four nuclear power reactors by 2025.
The industry ministry has allocated 55 million yen in the current fiscal year for projects such as sending nuclear experts overseas. It plans to spend the same amount annually over four more years.
The government, which had refrained from aggressive promotions, has taken an active role because demand is static at home but growing in fast-developing Asian countries.
China, which has nine nuclear power reactors in operation and is building two, plans to construct 30 more reactors by 2020.
South Korea, where 20 reactors are operating and four are under construction, intends to build 12 reactors by 2015.
Domestic demand will remain extremely weak until around 2030, when existing plants will have to be replaced, according to Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Inc., a nonprofit organisation for promotion of peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Domestic nuclear power plant contractors will have to depend on overseas demand to maintain their operations and expertise.
France, where nuclear power accounts for about 80% of electric power production, started seminars on nuclear power plant projects in Vietnam in spring 2005.
South Korea has invited Indonesian government leaders for tours to local nuclear power plants. It has also pledged free support to Vietnam.