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Japan Still Committed to Reactors, Plans Bid to Host ITER Machine.

Japan remains committed to a fusion development strategy focused on construction of a demonstration power plant (DEMO), N. Inoue, chair of the Nuclear Fusion Council of Japan, told a July 23-24 meeting of DOE's Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC).

"Japan intends to develop fusion as a viable option as a future energy source. For this purpose, construction of a fusion experimental reactor has the highest priority milestone toward this goal of DEMO," Inoue said.

Japan views the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) as one step to a DEMO facility and the Japanese government's decision to participate with other countries in ITER construction could come in early 2001, he said. In the interim, Japan will continuing its collaboration with Europe and Russia on the ITER design.

In parallel with its ITER work, Japan is studying various plasma confinement concept improvements, as well as materials development and reactor technology, Inoue said.

The Nuclear Fusion Council, which Inoue chairs, is part of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which Inoue described as "the highest organization that has authority on making decisions on nuclear energy development in Japan."

Inoue described requirements for the Next Step in fusion research by saying that "research with burning plasma is inevitable."

The physics of long-burn plasma is common to any type of magnetic fusion device and the use of a reacting plasma core accelerates the development of fusion technologies, he added.

Furthermore, various technologies required for fusion can only be studied with an actual integrated device, he said. In terms of political issues, Inoue said the Japanese government does not find the projected $5 billion cost of ITER to be of concern.

When the FESAC panel asked Inoue about the differences between the Japanese and U.S. fusion programs, he noted that in Japan, in addition to large university and laboratory programs, industry was heavily involved in the fusion program.

Support is Widespread

Fusion support is widespread in the government, "economic and industrial societies," academia and the public, Inoue said. He illustrated his point with supportive statements from various government bodies and organizations.

Japan is developing proposals to host the ITER device and "hopes to actively promote the project as a most important item in the fusion research program," Inoue said.

He concluded by saying Japan respects the U.S. potential in fusion and hopes the United States will "rejoin the (international) ITER activities."
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Publication:Fusion Power Report
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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