The Japanese government has opted to build up a huge domestic fusion industry to secure a leading role in the future commercial utilization of fusion power.
This policy is clearly set forth in a document published on April 14 by the Japanese Cabinet, entitled “Fusion Energy Innovation Strategy.” The new policy goes far beyond merely stepping up the participation of Japanese industry and scientific institutes in international projects.
The explicit intention is to create the industrial and manpower base for Japan to build – and no doubt export – its own commercial fusion plants, if possible in advance of other industrial nations.
One cannot help but recall the way the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) famously built up Japan’s industry, systematically, sector by sector, starting in 1949. The new “Fusion Innovation Strategy” is solidly rooted in Japan’s industrial policy tradition.
At first glance, the new policy still seems oriented to the “ultra-conservative” scenario, according to which the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a giant tokamak reactor now under construction, will provide the essential scientific and engineering basis, by around 2035, for designing and constructing a first prototype fusion power plant, the DEMO, likewise as an international project.