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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France’s first priority in Japan is university and scientific cooperation, organised around 130 agreements between higher education institutions. Dropping the requirement for a second foreign language as a condition for university admission has, however, reduced the number of students learning French in Japan.

Scientific and technological cooperation is central to the partnerships between France and Japan, a country that devotes 3.4% of its GDP to research (the comparable figure for France in 2.2%). Closer cooperation between their respective competitiveness clusters is a priority for both countries.

Franco-Japanese cooperation is particularly close in the field of nuclear energy, as witnessed by the ITER fusion project, a multilateral partnership in which France and Japan play a central role. The Director General of the project to build a fusion reactor at the Cadarache site is Japanese, and anywhere between 100 and 200 Japanese researchers are housed on site at any one time. Under the terms of the cooperation agreement, some of the ITER project facilities are based in Japan (at the Rokkasho-Mura site) with a high proportion of French researchers on the staff.

The close similarity between the French and Japanese nuclear power programmes also offers scope for developing active industrial partnerships in many other related fields, including a joint venture between Areva and Japanese industrial firms to build Japan’s first nuclear fuel reprocessing plant (Rokkasho-Mura), a joint venture (ATMEA) between Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to develop and market a mid-sized (1100 MW) third generation pressurised water reactor, and research cooperation between the respective atomic energy agencies, CEA in France and JAEA in Japan. Cooperation also proved its worth at the time of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, with Areva supplying around a hundred tons of emergency supplies of boron to control reactivity in the reactor cores, in addition to radiation protection and measurement equipment. Areva also sent in a team of nuclear decontamination specialists to form part of the Fukushima crisis centre set up by the Japanese government in conjunction with the plant operator, Tepco.

The 150th anniversary of Franco-Japanese relations also highlighted the vibrancy of cultural cooperation between the two countries, largely based on corporate patronage. The anniversary was celebrated in close on a thousand cultural events in France and Japan, in the respective capitals and across both nations.

Updated on 31.01.13

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