An NEA delegation led by Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, visited Japan from 18-24 July for a number of nuclear-energy focused meetings and events. This visit was the first major NEA mission to Japan since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and it served as a valuable follow-on from a series of online meetings held with Japanese organisations over the last two years.
The week began with the NEA Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy Workshop in Tokyo. Organised in co-operation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the University of Tokyo, it brought together representatives from eight Japanese universities, researchers, nuclear industry representatives, and officials from several Japanese government agencies. The NEA delegation was led by DG Magwood, Deputy Director-General Nobuhiro Muroya, and NEA Head of Nuclear Science and Education, Dr Tatiana Ivanova. Professor Richard Lester, Associate Provost, Japan Steel Industry and Professor with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Chair of the Global Forum’s Council of Advisors chaired the two-day discussion and was joined by another member of the Council of Advisors, Professor Karen Kirkland, Associate Department Head and Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M.
During the workshop, DG Magwood highlighted the NEA’s important role and missions which aim to engage with academic institutions to develop the next generation of nuclear science and technology experts, and bring creative thinking to policy challenges. He also spoke about the current state of the Japanese nuclear industry and its different phases in the 11 years following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.
With presentations from several of Japan’s leading nuclear energy experts, the workshop explored the relevance and attractiveness of the nuclear education programmes, their stability and support within universities, as well as potential ways to increase co-operation between nuclear education programmes, the industry and government in addressing the challenges faced by the nuclear education community.
Later that same week, the NEA held an International Mentoring Workshop in Science, Engineering and Decommissioning for young female students in Naraha town in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Conducted in co-operation with the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation of Japan (NDF), the students interacted with six highly accomplished female scientists and engineers from Japan and around the world. The students also toured the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Remote Technology Development Centre.
DG Magwood and NDF President Hajimu Yamana addressed the students. During his opening remarks, DG Magwood stressed the importance of bringing together young females interested or engaged in STEM careers with experienced STEM and nuclear energy leaders.
“The NEA has held International Mentoring Workshops for several years in a number of countries, primarily aiming to encourage young women to consider careers in STEM and nuclear technology,” said DG Magwood.
“Ensuring a robust STEM workforce begins with the pipeline of young people undertaking the necessary academic preparation. Our mentoring workshops reach young women during this critical decision-making phase, and strengthen their interest in STEM by connecting them with accomplished female nuclear leaders from their home countries and abroad.”
During the beginning of the second day, the workshop received Japan’s Minister for Reconstruction, Minister in Charge of Comprehensive Policy Coordination for Revival from the Nuclear Accident at Fukushima, Kosaburo Nishime who observed the sessions and addressed the students about the importance of having more women in science and technology.
NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, addressing Japanese students during the mentoring workshop
During the mission to Japan, DG Magwood also met with several government agencies, nuclear energy stakeholders and executives, and key partners such as the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) Tokyo Centre and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry.