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Research Areas & Themes ( 2018 ): Natural Resources, Energy & Environment

Research on innovation-based solutions to energy and global warming issues

Project Leader
Project Member(s)  ・ 
Research Objective Natural resources, energy and the environment remain key policy issues as the world faces major changes in the international situation concerning global warming and energy supply and demand. A particularly urgent issue is to build a sustainable energy system that can support the future economy and society through innovation. This project studies recent developments of such issues in Japan and abroad, and conducts research that searches for a long-term direction for innovation toward resolving issues such as global warming and other environmental constraints, energy market instability arising from changing international situations, and tightening supply-demand balance due to rapidly growing Asian economies.
The IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees is due to be released at the end of September this year, and an international dialogue on the review of numerical targets will be held during a COP meeting at the end of 2018. The Japanese government will develop long-term climate change strategye which is required to be submitted to the Paris Agreement by 2020. During the process, the discussions on the drastic measures on the global warming issues will be deepened. By taking advantage of the opportunity to join these activities, the project team will foster comprehensive understanding of global warming issues and discuss cross-cutting strategies centering on measures to accelerate necessary innovations. Close attention will be paid to new possibilities and limitations of innovation, and how these issues will be shared in East Asia. Our study also encompasses nuclear technology, which has an advantage regarding the 3E principle including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Project Overview 1. Comprehensively understanding the IPCC activities and global warming issues, and studying energy and climate change strategies based on accelerated innovation
We will attend IPCC and government committee meetings to exchange views and information with researchers and stakeholders. Focus will also be placed on the design of Japanese and international systems centering on the acceleration and promotion of innovation as a strategy to address integrated energy and climate change measures.
2. International case study on energy, global warming and innovation
The project will study and analyze some examples of comprehensive innovation-based solutions to energy and global warming issues in China, the EU, the US and other countries.
3. Study on the development and use of next-generation nuclear reactors
The project will draft a scenario for R&D and commercialization of next-generation nuclear reactors based on an analysis of their roles in long-term climate change measures.
4.Energy and environment seminar
We will organize lectures by leading experts in Japan and abroad to foster discussions that consider the world's latest developments and to deepen awareness.
5. Energy workshop for researchers and policymakers
To examine issues such as evidence-based policymaking and social consensus formation that serves as the foundation for policymaking, we will invite young Japanese and foreign researchers, regardless of their field of study or position, to organize workshops and seminars regularly and continue discussions from broad perspectives. This will help create an environment conducive to a "new combination" and provide an opportunity for researchers and policymakers to exchange opinions with each other and enhance their expertise.
6. Exchange of opinions with major Asian countries
Through workshops and other events, we will exchange views with, and gather information from, researchers and policymakers in China and other major Asian countries.

Legal analysis of the approaches to secure nuclear safety

Project Leader
Collaborator(s) Shinsuke TOYONAGA(Attorney at law)
Research Objective Today, the need is growing to analyze risks associated with the development of science and technology from legal perspectives (the topic commonly known as “science, technology and law”). There have been studies on the relationship between science & technology and law in the context of legal trials. However, few studies have focused on how the legal system should apply to the incorporation of science and technology into policies, and how the legal system should regulate risks associated with science and technology in a democratic society. In particular, our research focuses on the legal system for nuclear technology, with a focus on how to ensure safety, where nuclear technologies are characterized as being large in scale, and complex yet useful, while carrying a high risk to the public.
Our research will also include the following viewpoints and legal systems: (i) to ensure stable investments in the nuclear industry; (ii) to promote technology innovation; (iii) to meet international trends such as public awareness and advancement of legislative technique; (iv) to define who is responsible by calling for national debates on the use of nuclear energy; (v) to ensure efficiency through standardization and certification; and (vi) to identify nuclear regulation laws as a part of the legal framework for economy and energy. This will allow us to perform highly applicable research that goes beyond nuclear energy.
Project Overview The project will analyze the relationship between nuclear safety and the nuclear damage compensation system from legal points of view. This will enable us to provide necessary and appropriate recommendations on the amendment of the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage as full-scale work begins. Specifically, we will study the limited liability of nuclear operators, one of the key issues addressed in the amendment. Although the term "liability" is ambiguous, the project intends to invigorate discussion by taking an approach of analyzing the meaning of liability from a legal perspective. Study will also continue on the so-called back-fit issue, which refers to how to require existing nuclear facilities to comply with safety criteria established under the new regulatory standards, due to its significance in the debate on science & technology and law. To incorporate expert opinions effectively into our discussions and analyses, in addition to taking intrinsic legal issues into consideration, we will hold study meetings with technology and policy experts every month or two, semiannual study meetings with companies (e.g., reactor manufacturers), and workshops every four months. One of the project members has been participating in the amendment work for the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage as a legal adviser of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology since October last year. We are considering holding a workshop and/or seminar for Japanese participants on the establishment of the revised law, depending on the progress of the amendment work.

Study on the sustainable comprehensive use of sea areas and Japan-China exchanges

Project Leader
Project Member(s)
Research Objective Academic research and political discussions in the marine field tend to focus on detrimental and other effects of climate change and adaptation measures. The use of marine resources that contribute to mitigating global warming, such as blue carbon and marine renewable energy, has been slow to progress due to economic constraints. Meanwhile, in addition to energy and global warming, water resources and food shortages are becoming recognized as future threats to sustainable human society. There is much potential in the role that marine development and use can play in resolving these issues, when land development is reaching its capacity. This project will comprehensively evaluate an integrated energy and food production system in the ocean from technical, economic and environmental perspectives, and explore sustainable ocean development and use.
Marine issues have been negatively affecting Japan-China relations. By fostering discussions and exchanges between experts from both countries, the project aims to initiate cooperation on sustainable ocean development and use, and create shared benefits.
Project Overview 1. Building and evaluating a system for sustainable ocean development and use
2. Exchange between Japanese and Chinese experts

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