As Japan's Prime Minister Abe tours Europe, he is securing the cooperation from Europe's largest nuclear nations that he hopes (I think) will enhance the status of Japan as a major nuclear nation and secure the nuclear future for Japan.
With France, Mr. Abe is offering Japan's Monju fast breeder reactor to conduct tests for the Astrid.
What's the Astrid? From the wiki entry for Generation IV reactors:
The European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative is funding three Generation IV reactor systems, one of which is a sodium-cooled fast reactor, called ASTRID, Advanced Sodium Technical Reactor for Industrial Demonstration, Areva, CEA and EDF are leading the design with British collaboration. Astrid will be rated about 600 MWe and is expected to be built in France, with construction slated to begin in 2017 near to the Phénix reactor.
Mr. Abe is eager to justify Japan's fuel cycle policy, and he wants to make nuclear technology and military weaponry as two of the major exports from Japan for which his government wants to become the top salesman.
From Nikkei Asia (4/30/2014; emphasis is mine):
Japan, France to work together on next-generation reactors
TOKYO -- The Japanese and French governments are working toward an agreement to cooperate in the development of fast reactors, a technology designed to reduce nuclear waste.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Francois Hollande will likely affirm the partnership in Paris on May 5. The agreement would build on an earlier comprehensive partnership formed last June in the field of nuclear energy.
Fast neutron reactors convert spent fuel, which remains radioactive for tens of thousands of years, into materials that emit radiation for just a few hundred years, thus helping to reduce overall nuclear waste.
When put into practical operation, such a reactor would generate electricity and cut down on nuclear waste at the same time.
France is developing the Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration), which it plans to start operating around 2025, but it lacks sufficient reactors to conduct tests. Japan will offer up its Monju prototype fast breeder reactor, which has been idle due to safety concerns, for the tests.
Good luck France. Workers, engineers, and scientists at Monju say they are not comfortable working there, unsure about safety.
Then, TEPCO has announced that they will closely collaborate with the UK's Sellafield Ltd. whose expertise in decommissioning a troubled reactor could benefit TEPCO in decommissioning Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
The Windscale accident was an INES Level 5 accident.
From TEPCO's presentation in English (5/2/2014):
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) considers it would be beneficial to share expertise with overseas operators which have similar decommissioning experience, to decommission Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
TEPCO has agreed with Sellafield Ltd. on exchanging information relating to the management and technology of decommissioning, towards a safer and stable decontamination and decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Sellafield Ltd. is a company in UK which has engaged in the decommissioning of a reactor and radioactive waste facilities. On ahead of the formal information exchanging agreement, the two companies signed a cooperation statement, which clarifies the objectives and significance of the agreement.
Content of the Statement (Objectives and significance of the information exchanging agreement)
Overview of the objectives
Sharing expertise, experience and technology in radioactive waste management, clean up and decommissioning:
Visits in both directions (Fukushima Daiichi NPS, Sellafield) by representatives from both organisations, sharing of information / reports and similar exercises
Contributing to achieving the goals for both sites by learning from the similar challenges
Continuously assessing the effectiveness of cooperation
Overview of the significance
Proper visibility of the suppliers’ contribution
Strengthening of the links between our businesses and wider, civil society
Positive support of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) etc.
About technologies/knowledge of Sellafield Ltd.
Sellafield is working with the decommissioning of the Windscale nuclear reactor, which suffered radiation leak (INES-5).
It deals with the decommissioning and risk-reducing measurements fo the other facilities with high risk of radiation leakage
It has an experience of dealing contaminated water leak to the ground
It is clear from the comment by Mr. Naohiro Masuda, Chief Decommissioning Officer of a new TEPCO company called Fukushima Daiichi D&D Engineering Company, that this deal was brokered by the Japanese government and the UK government, regardless of whether TEPCO wanted it or not.
Mr. Masuda was the plant manager of Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant, which came very close to core melt after the loss of power after the earthquake on March 11, 2011. What the workers did under his leadership and why the core melt did not happen at Fukushima II would be worth recalling.