Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Toshimitsu Motegi, and U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, met on July 24, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Both sides noted the central role played by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in U.S.-Japan energy cooperation, particularly on energy security matters, civil nuclear energy and clean energy technology research and development (R&D). Both sides expressed their intent to continue strengthening cooperation between DOE and METI and discussed issues in the following areas.
U.S.-Japan Civil Nuclear Cooperation
Both sides noted the importance of the implementing arrangement signed May 3, 2013 which will enable valuable cooperation on light-water reactor R&D, nuclear nonproliferation, and other civil nuclear topics.
Both sides looked forward to holding the next meeting of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation as soon as possible in 2013, noting its importance as the forum for comprehensive, strategic dialogue and joint activities with respect to civil nuclear energy. Both sides noted the progress made over the past year by working groups under the Commission in the key areas of safety and regulatory matters, emergency management, decommissioning and environmental management, civil nuclear energy R&D, and nuclear security, as well as the Minister’s proposal for a new dialogue on voluntary efforts of industry to improve nuclear safety and to include the use of probabilistic risk assessment. Both sides recognized the importance of achieving the objectives of the International Atomic Energy Agency Action Plan, including establishing a global nuclear liability regime, as soon as possible and the importance of cooperation between Japan and the United States in this endeavor. In this connection, the Secretary referred to the U.S. goal of bringing the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage into force within twelve months and asked for Japan’s support to meet that goal.
Climate Change Cooperation
To advance existing and long-standing collaborative efforts that were further emphasized by the April 2013 U.S.-Japan Fact Sheet on Climate Change Cooperation, both sides discussed the need to enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperation on energy-related aspects of climate change, including through increased information sharing and R&D on innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Clean Energy Technology
Both sides noted the progress in bilateral cooperation under the U.S.-Japan Clean Energy Policy Dialogue (EPD) and looked forward to the next EPD which the United States will host in December 2013.
Both sides welcomed the success of the first U.S.-Japan Renewable Energy Policy Business Roundtable, held in Tokyo in December 2012, and shared the desire to continue to promote information sharing, networking, and partnerships between U.S. and Japanese businesses in the clean energy field. DOE and the Department of Commerce will host the next Business Roundtable in December 2013 in conjunction with the EPD.
Both sides also welcomed the expected start by the end of this year of the smart grid demonstration project by NEDO in Hawaii, under the framework of the Hawaii-Okinawa Partnership on Clean and Efficient Energy Development and Deployment.
The Secretary noted that DOE is continuing to explore with Japan’s Ministry of the Environment a possible joint public-private microgrid demonstration project, under the Tohoku Green Community Alliance, highlighting the benefits of such systems for disaster recovery and resiliency as well as lowering carbon emissions.
Recognizing the importance of innovative technology, both sides welcomed the current R&D cooperation, such as hydrogen and fuel cell collaborations, between DOE national laboratories and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). Both sides expressed interest in pursuing additional, mutually beneficial R&D cooperation in fields including solar power and geothermal power, as well as collaboration between DOE laboratories and the soon to open Fukushima Renewable Energy Laboratory of AIST. Both sides also expressed the intent to continue existing cooperation in areas such as clean coal and carbon capture and storage.
In recognition of the gas exchange experiment conducted in Alaska in 2012 and the gas production experiment conducted in Japan in 2013, both sides reconfirmed the cooperation on methane hydrates stated in the Statement of Intent signed in 2008, including consideration of a long-term gas production experiment in Alaska.
Minister Motegi welcomed the export approval of the Freeport LNG Project on May 17th by DOE. The United States commits to inform Japan about the statutory process required by the Natural Gas Act which governs the evaluations of LNG export applications, to FTA countries and to non-FTA countries such as Japan. The NGA directs the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate LNG export applications to non-FTA countries. To date, two applications have received conditional approval to export LNG to non-FTA countries. The DOE is currently evaluating pending applications on a case-by-case basis.
Both sides noted their close continuous cooperation in multilateral and regional frameworks such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), the International Energy Forum (IEF), and the East Asian Summit (EAS). For example, both sides discussed the potential to work together on energy efficiency in the buildings sector through multilateral cooperation such as the CEM, the Major Economies Forum and APEC. Japan and the United States are continuing to work together to promote next generation vehicles through several frameworks including the CEM’s Electric Vehicle Initiative.