Kadri Simson, the EU Energy Commissioner, representing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and Kazuo Kodama, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the European Union, signed a joint declaration prolonging the duration of the Broader Approach agreement covering a number of projects in the field of fusion energy.
The scientific partnership between the two parties has been hailed a success to the extent that policy-makers are considering copying its philosophy in other areas of work. Broadly speaking it relies on the development of common projects stemming from a joint work programme, the secondment of human resources capitalising on their expertise, voluntary financial contributions, and the open exchange of information and findings. One could describe it as a fine example of science diplomacy underpinned by a one-team spirit. Initially, the Broader Approach agreement, signed on 1 June 2007, ran for ten years and was extended by additional three. Under the recently-signed prolongation, the projects will run initially for five years, and the possibility of yearly extensions is also envisaged. JT60-SA, the most powerful Tomakak machine till ITER is up and running, is expected to be switched on by the end of this year and to be further enhanced during the lifetime of the agreement; IFMIF/EVEDA will also become operational and its accelerator will undergo further upgrades; IFERC with an array of subprojects is expected to support with R&D the other two projects. What makes these projects particularly valuable is their capacity to produce new findings in a timely manner and of direct use to ITER, and DEMO at a later stage.
There are some novelties in this new agreement: objectives and financial contributions will be set annually; Japan as host of these projects is expected to make a higher contribution; voluntary contributions will be agreed according to the availability of resources by putting manpower or delivering equipment; organisations like F4E and EUROfusion will be seconding staff to operate the machines.
A few days before the signature of the agreement, the Delegation of the EU to Japan received in Rokkasho representatives from Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Lithuania, and Italy working in the field of innovation, science and technology to visit the IFMIF/EVEDA site. They were all impressed with the spirit of collaboration and developed a true interest in the projects and their potential bringing us a step closer to fusion energy.
To read more about the signature of the Broader Approach agreement click here.