The Cabinet Office and the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) hosted The 22nd FNCA Ministerial Level Meeting (MLM) online on December 9, 2021. This meeting is held to give the ministers responsible for nuclear science and related fields from 12 FNCA member countries an opportunity to engage in policy discussions once a year with the aim of promoting regional cooperation related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
At this meeting, Ms. Aleshia DUNCAN, Chairman of the Steering Group of the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (INNEC), Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Nuclear Energy Policy and Cooperation, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, gave a keynote speech on the theme of "IFNEC Initiatives: The Importance of Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy and Regional Development" and Dr. UESAKA Mitsuru, Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), gave a keynote speech on the theme of "Medical Isotope Production and Supply by Best Mix of Reactors and Accelerators" respectively. And then, a policy dialogue (Round Table Discussion) was held on the main subject of this meeting, "Enhancing the utilization of research reactors, accelerators and their related technologies, and their possibility of broad contribution to the social well-being in the region" with lead speeches from the representatives from the member countries. After the presentation of the winners of the FNCA Breakthrough Prize 2021, which was a special prize only for this year, and a commemorative speech given by the winner of the Best Researcher, country reports were given on nuclear energy policies and the progress of policies of the member countries. The meeting was concluded with the adoption of the Joint Communique, which addresses, for instance, "Effort to normalize FNCA project activities that has been suspended due to the COVID-19" and "Sharing relevant information and expansion of research reactors, accelerators and related technologies among the member countries", etc. Through the entire meeting, there was an active exchange of opinions and information among the participants.(Program)(Participants List) (Summary of Joint Communique)
At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. KOBAYASHI Takayuki, the Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Japan, delivered the opening remarks via video message. In his opening remarks, he expressed his highest respect to the representatives of each member country who have shown leadership in their respective organizations during the nearly two-year-long COVID-19 pandemic and noted (1) FNCA has made outstanding achievements in all important areas of peaceful uses of nuclear energy since its establishment in 2000, (2) Today's policy discussion should be reflected in FNCA project activities, of which results should also be disseminated to the local communities, (3) In view of the discussions and resolutions at COP26, the nuclear science and technology will be re-evaluated for realizing a carbon-neutral society, and concluded by wishing for the early and complete revival of the FNCA project activities, which have been stagnated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. KOBAYASHI Takayuki
Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Japan
(2)-① Keynote Speech
Ms. DUNCAN, Chairman of the Steering Group of the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC), gave a keynote speech entitled "IFNEC Initiatives: The Importance of Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy and Regional Development". First, Ms. Duncan explained IFNEC principle and objectives, the current organization and the outline of activities of each activity group. She stated the following four priority areas of activities IFNEC will pursue in 2022 onwards (1) To promote correct understanding of nuclear energy across regions and generations in the community through clear and concise communication about nuclear energy, (2) To Establish funding to support the peaceful use of nuclear energy, watching the possibility of taxonomy, (3) To introduce and expand "Gender Balance", being widely well recognized around the world, within the relevant organizations of nuclear energy, and (4) To promote technological innovation regarding to nuclear energy including SMRs through the collaboration between regions and international organizations. As a conclusion, it is necessary to have clear awareness of climate change issue and the necessity of resolutions first. In order to achieve this, she mentioned that it is important to widely share knowledge and experience of nuclear energy, and the resources on which it is based among all relevant stakeholders, to organize and widespread correct knowledge and understanding of nuclear energy in a simple and organized manner, and to unite strategic partners who share the same objectives.
Ms. Alethea DUNCAN,
Chairman of the Steering Group of (INNEC), Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Nuclear Energy Policy and Cooperation, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, USA
(2) -① Keynote Speech
Then, Dr. UESAKA Mitsuru, Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) , gave a keynote speech entitled "Medical Radioisotopes through the Best Mix of Research Reactors and Accelerators". Although the demand for radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and cancer treatment is increasing worldwide, Japan presently relies on import of many medical radioisotopes such as 99Mo. If we look overseas, efforts are made to secure stable supply in US and Europe. 99Mo/99mTc, most commonly used in the SPECT examination, is currently produced at 6 research reactors in the world, but all of them are being deteriorated, and there is a concern that there will be a serious supply shortage in the near future. In terms of stable supply, although it is desirable to have the best-mix of global supply and local production, global supply is highly vulnerable. Meanwhile, since the patients of prostate cancer travel around the world in search of 225Ac cure, we should establish a system to move 225Ac instead. Although alternative manufacturing methods of 225Ac research reactors are being explored around the world, the fast reactor "JOYO" will be re-operated in a few years in Japan and there are expectation of 225Ac production. Furthermore, research and development of 225Ac production by cyclotron is in progress at the Quantum Science and Technology Research Organization (QST) and Nihon Medi-Physics Co., Ltd. And in November, as part of Japan's growth strategy approved by the cabinet, an expert meeting was formed under JAEC with the aim of domestic production of RI. He addressed that there is an immediate need to set up an international supply chain collaborated with those global supply source.
(3) Round Table Discussion
Dr. NAKANISHI Tomoko, a member of JAEC, chaired a discussion, and Thailand, Japan and Australia made lead speeches on the main topic of this meeting, "Enhancing the utilization of research reactors, accelerators and their related technology" from the perspectives of state policies, technologies, and production (RI Production) followed by a Q&A session and discussion. And a summary of speeches of three nations are respectively as follows;
Thailand (TINT) : Under the national policy which aims to shift from technical user to technical creators, they operated new facility of 5Mev(x-ray) and 3/10Mev(electron beam) in 2019 and conducted irradiation to over 1600 tons of foods and over 360 tons of herbal supplements and pharmaceuticals in 2021 along with the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) strategy. Also, they continue to work to promote the radiation effect and encourage people to use it against small-medium enterprises. Moreover, they reported about the 30Mev cyclotron facility for the purpose of pharmaceutical production will be completed in 2022.
Dr. OIGAWA Hiroyuki, Executive Director of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) from Japan, reported about research reactors (8 bases) in Japan for the purpose of academic research, industrial use of neutrons, human development, and development of next generation reactor and its current operation plan as well as the usage plan. The JRR-3, which had been suspended due to comply with new regulatory standard was re-operated in this February, and is currently used for neutron research and RI manufacturing. Along with the J-PARK, a high intensity proton accelerator, number of technological innovation will be born. Moreover, fast neutron irradiation, which is produced from an experimental fast reactor "JOYO", is scheduled to re-operated, will be used for various application for related technologies.
ANSTO from Australia team introduced wide range of activities of the organizations related to nuclear energies. In addition, they explained the ANSTO's accumulation of knowledge and present condition about nuclear medicine, which has been remarkably developed due to the emergence of new radionuclides. And among the varieties of radionuclides currently are produced in Australia, 99Mo, 177Lu, 131I, 153Sm, and 99Mo/99mTc are produced in an industrial scale, they explained. In terms of radionuclides used in theranostics, although only 177Lu are produced in an industrial scale in Australia at this moment, efforts are being made in order to expand supply capability in this field, where demand is growing, they reported.
(4) Announcement of FNCA Breakthrough Prize Winner and Commemorative Speech
Whole thing is stalled and the status of activities varies among countries due to the spread of new coronavirus infections, nomination and prize-giving ceremony of country project teams with the most outstanding activities in this fiscal year, FNCA Award, is suspended. As an alternative, it was decided to recognize individual researchers who made the most valuable research results in last five years as "Breakthrough Prize" only for this fiscal year. The following "Best Researcher" (1) and "Excellent Researchers" (3) are honored and Best Researcher made a commemorative speech.
|·Best Researcher (1):
||Dr. Phiriyatorn SUWANMAL (Thailand)
Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications Project.
She irradiated cassava starch to create a super water absorbent (SWA) and successfully disseminate to commercialize through the collaboration with private companies. SWA has improved the survival rate of rubber tree in Thailand by 40%, and 43% of increase in production in the field test phase was materialized. She also created SWA from sugarcane bagasse which is supposed to be a waste. The winning of gold awards at the international exhibitions also attracted attentions.
|·Excellent Researcher (3):
||•Dr. Angel T. BAUTISTA VII (The Philippines)
Research on Climate Change using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques Project
•Dr. Sobri Hussein (Malaysia)
Mutation Breeding Project
•Dr. MIZUNO Hideyuki, (National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST))
Mutation Breeding Project
Dr. Phiriyathorn Suwammala, (Thailand) receives the Best Researcher Prize
(5) Country Reports
The representatives from each country reported about their recent nuclear policies and progress of nuclear related activities. As for Japan, Mr. SANO Toshio, Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), made a report. It includes, (1) Summary of Special Section on TEPCO's Fukushima in the White Paper on Nuclear Energy in fiscal year 2020, (2) Summary of "ALPS Processed Water at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, (3) Formulation of the 6th Basic Energy Plan, (4) NEXIP Initiatives, and (5) Trends in RI Applications.
(6) Report for Coordinators Meeting and Study Panel
Mr. WADA Tomoaki, FNCA coordinator of Japan, reported on the overview of The 21st Coordinators Meeting held online in June 2021 and "Annual Achievement and Project Activities". The outline of Study Panel held also online in March 2021was reported by Mr. SANO Toshio, Commissioner of JAEC. In addition, he explained the schedule of regular meetings in 2022, The 23rd Ministerial Level Meeting will be held in Mongolia in Oct 2022 etc.
(7) Adoption of Joint Communique
Following Joint Communique was adopted.
Summary of the Joint Communique (Full Text (PDF188KB))
- The normalization of FNCA project activities and regular meetings
Maximize efforts continuously to normalize promptly FNCA project activities and the several regular meetings in response to the constraints brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring the safety of the project researchers and participants as a prerequisite and subject to the national health policies of the respective member countries,
Request the coordinators to proceed with the existing and the new projects by making the best use of virtual means such as online meetings where appropriate under the current circumstances,
- Future cooperation between the FNCA and the IAEA in the area of human health
Anticipating that the IAEA will make necessary coordination with the relevant international organizations including the WHO and FAO without duplicating existing mandates in combating zoonotic diseases including COVID-19, explore possible collaboration between the FNCA and the IAEA on the ZODIAC project in the future,
- Promotion of cancer treatments with radiation technology in Asia
Accelerating the FNCA project in the member countries according to the policy established by the project leaders and endorsed by the member countries during the Round Table Discussion in the 2019 Ministerial Level Meeting to enhance cancer therapy with radiation technology in the Asian region,
Continue and intensify the efforts also through the cooperation with the relevant international organizations to develop and disseminate innovative technology related to radiation therapy,
- Cooperate in addressing issues of environmental protection and countermeasures to climate change
In view of frequent occurrence of extreme weather worldwide in the recent years, encourage the member countries to reinforce their cooperation on the issue of environmental protection and the countermeasures to climate change, and proceed with the projects related to climate change continuously,
- Enhance the practical use of research reactors and accelerators
In accordance with the discussion on "The Enhance of Utilization of Research Reactors and Accelerators" at the Round Table Discussion of the 22nd FNCA Ministerial Level Meeting, promote information exchange with respect to research reactors and accelerators as well as the reciprocal usage of the facilities among the member countries,
- Spread of the R&D results
Encourage the member countries to utilize the outcomes of projects on mutation breeding, radiation processing, research reactor utilization, isotope production and neutron activation analysis with end-users, including the private sector, taking into account the possibility of their commercialization, which can more effectively contribute to the member countries' social-economic well-being,
- Enhancement of public communication, public relations functions and cooperation with relevant international institutions
Adopt "Building up public trust on nuclear science and technology" as the topic for discussion at 2022 Study Panel to share knowledge and good practices among the member countries, and put their learnings to good use for their building up public trust on their relevant activities,
Continue to promote public communication to raise an awareness of, and build public trust in, nuclear technology through the public relations functions of the FNCA such as its website and open lectures in the member countries, and make efforts to further reinforce the relationship with relevant international institutions including IAEA, OECD/NEA and IFNEC,
- Other areas and activities to be promoted
Promote activities related to the applications of nuclear science and technology, particularly in sustainable agriculture development and food security, environmental protection, medical care and human health, and infrastructure development for nuclear safety and security culture, by accelerating existing R&D areas, and by adopting possible future R&D areas to support their sustainable development,
- Cooperation in HRD of the nuclear technology and science field
Activate organizational exchange of human resources among universities and research institutions, and of information related to the reinforcement of HRD infrastructure in accordance with the individual demand and situation of the member countries by utilizing virtual means such as webinars and/or online workshops where appropriate,
Dr. UESAKA, Chairman of JAEC, made closing remarks and the meeting was closed.