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United States-Japan Cooperation on Energy Security

January 9, 2007 - 9:59am

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The United States and Japan enjoy strong energy cooperation through the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Working Group, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), and the International Energy Forum.  Also, the two countries have energy technology cooperation that includes the International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (I-NERI), the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), and the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE).

The United States and Japan are committed to strengthening the energy security of both countries as two major economic powers and energy consumers.  Both sides recognize that improving energy efficiency and diversifying their energy mix - making wider use of clean and alternative energy, such as clean use of coal, nuclear energy and renewables, improving the investment climate in energy producing countries and engaging emerging economies are essential for ensuring the mutual energy security of the United States and Japan and addressing global climate change.  Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy of the United States of America, and Akira Amari, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, therefore met in Washington on January 9, 2007, to review their current and prospective cooperative activities in the energy field.

I.  Diversifying Energy Mix

Nuclear Power:  The United States and Japan have significant, longstanding nuclear cooperation and recognize that continued cooperation in the nuclear energy area would contribute to energy security, nuclear nonproliferation and addressing global climate change.

Both sides are committed to collaboration on the various aspects of the civilian nuclear fuel cycle.  The United States and Japan will jointly develop a civil nuclear energy action plan that will provide a framework for collaboration.  The plan will place focus on: (a) research and development activities under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership initiative that will build upon the significant civilian nuclear energy technical cooperation already underway; (b) collaboration on policies and programs that support the construction of new nuclear power plants; and (c) regulatory and nonproliferation-related exchanges.  The plan will be completed by April 2007.

Clean Coal:  With a common understanding that further promotion of research and development of clean coal technologies and their dissemination is an urgent task in addressing global environmental issues, both sides welcome the intention of the Japanese government to actively participate in the FutureGen Project, a United States-sponsored initiative to construct the world's first emission-free coal fired electricity generation plant.  Japan will make contributions in the forms of expertise, funding, and information exchange on carbon capture and sequestration technology. 

Both sides share the interest in accelerating the ongoing research, development and dissemination of clean coal technologies, such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Carbon Capture and Storage by promoting bilateral exchange of information between public and private sectors through the APP.  

Methane Hydrates:  In addition to the ongoing cooperation among the United States and Japanese researchers, both sides will continue their information exchange on methane hydrates. Given the complicated variability associated with methane hydrate R&D, enhanced cooperation specifically in the areas of production testing and detection will substantially accelerate the feasibility of commercial methane hydrate production.

Renewable Energy:  Renewable energy is among the key alternatives to traditional fossil fuels.  International cooperation to accelerate the use of renewable energy is already underway, for example, in the IEA, APEC, and the APP.  The United States and Japan recognize the great potential of renewables and have made significant strides in deployment of these technologies, as evidenced by Japan's investment in grid-connected solar photovoltaics and the increase in U.S. production of biofuels.  In the area of biofuels, production from cellulosic feedstocks presents significant opportunities for limiting oil use and carbon emissions but requires further R&D efforts before becoming cost-competitive.  The United States and Japan may therefore explore ways to enhance exchange of information on the technology for production of biofuels from such cellulosic feedstocks.  

II.  Improving Energy Efficiency:  Both sides recognize that energy conservation and efficiency provide many of the most cost-effective ways to enhance energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  With the view to improving the efficiency of energy use, the United States and Japan will enhance the exchange of information on good practices in both public and private sectors.  

Both sides also recognize that the APP and the collaborative efforts it has catalyzed between the government and business community provide a successful example of technology-focused, public-private partnership, and encourage its greater political momentum.  Accordingly, both sides will continue to support the APP activities.  The United States and Japan support efforts by the IEA in developing energy efficiency indicators and compiling best practices, which will provide useful inputs to the APP.

III.  Improving Investment Climate in Energy Producing Countries:  The United States and Japan share concerns about impediments in energy producing countries to the significant new investment needed to meet world wide growing energy demand.  Both sides will therefore continue to encourage energy producing countries to improve their investment climate in the ways that were endorsed by the G8 Leaders in the St. Petersburg Plan of Action on Global Energy Security.  Specifically, the United States and Japan will endeavor to enhance understanding that foreign investments in upstream sectors are beneficial for energy producing and consuming countries alike; to encourage transparent, equitable, stable and effective legal and regulatory frameworks; and to emphasize the obligation of all countries to uphold the sanctity of contracts.  

IV.  Engaging Emerging Economies:  Both sides recognize that the engagement of emerging economies, particularly China and India, is crucial for ensuring global energy security.  Integrating these growing energy consumers into the global energy market and promoting responsible market-based policies and energy use will be a priority for both countries.  Both sides therefore agree to strengthen their cooperation with China and India with particular focus on energy efficiency and emergency preparedness.  The Five-Country Energy Ministers' meeting in December 2006 (in which ministers from China, India, Japan, Korea and the United States participated) was a good example of coordinated engagement efforts by the United States and Japan.  Both sides also agree to ensure close cooperation and coordination in working with China and India through their respective bilateral dialogue with these countries and multilateral fora including  APEC, the IEA, and the APP.  

Recognizing that there is substantial potential for improving energy efficiency in China and India, both sides agree to strengthen their cooperation for institutional and capacity building in this area and to encourage market-based pricing in these countries as a prerequisite for energy conservation and efficiency and investment in conventional and alternative energies.

Noting the efforts by China and India to build the strategic oil reserves and recognizing that internationally coordinated emergency response will substantially enhance their effectiveness, both sides will continue to encourage China and India to align with the IEA in such emergency response measures as a stock draw-down and demand restraint at the time of any supply disruption.

The cooperative activities highlighted above reflect the breadth of challenges that the United States and Japan share in enhancing energy security.  The two countries also have a great deal of expertise to offer in a range of energy technology fields.  Through the commitment to facilitating cooperation in the areas of energy security and technology options, both sides further strengthen the ongoing efforts to enhance energy security, the environment and sustainable economic development in the world.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, 202-586-4940

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