U.S., Japanese Officials Hold Nuclear Emergency Management Dialogue to Enhance Crisis Preparedness and Response

January 28, 2013

Japanese and U.S. government officials convened today for the first meeting of the Emergency Management Working Group under the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation. The two sides agreed to finalize a roadmap of cooperative activities for the next eighteen months. The meeting was an important milestone in implementing the vision that President Obama and former Prime Minister Noda set for the Bilateral Commission in April 2012.

Emergency Management Working Group participants compared national policy frameworks for nuclear emergency management, discussed information sharing and data requirements for effective crisis response, and agreed on the importance of exercises in improving preparedness and response. The working group helped to build personal relationships among U.S. and Japanese counterparts, and generated practical lessons for enhancing whole-of-government coordination.

The Emergency Management Working Group includes participants from a range of agencies that share responsibilities for preventing and responding to nuclear emergencies. Co-Chaired by Shuichi Kaneko of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority and Dr. Steven Aoki from the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, Monday's dialogue included representatives from Japan's Cabinet Secretariat, Coast Guard, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Self Defense Forces. U.S. participants included representatives of the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Departments of State and Defense.

As announced following an April 2012 meeting of President Obama and former Prime Minister Noda at the White House, the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was created to provide a regular mechanism to formulate, align and implement U.S.-Japan cooperation in the area of civil nuclear energy policy through cooperation in research and development and safety and security issues, building and improving upon existing cooperation and cooperative mechanisms and promoting coordinated approaches between our countries. The Bilateral Commission will serve as a standing, senior-level dialogue to coordinate policy across multiple agencies of the Governments of the United States and Japan. It is envisioned that the Bilateral Commission will serve as a forum for bilateral consultation on issues affecting the global development of civil nuclear energy, including shared bilateral priorities as well as policy issues addressed in multilateral policy and consultation venues.

The first Bilateral Commission meeting was held in Tokyo on July 27, 2012, where five Working Groups were announced: the Nuclear Security Working Group, the Civil Nuclear Energy Research and Development Working Group; the Environmental Management and Decommissioning Working Group: the Safety and Regulatory Issues Working Group: and an Emergency Management Working Group. The first Bilateral Commission Plenary was held on July 24, 2012.

In addition to building both countries' capacity to respond to nuclear and radiological crises, various U.S. and Japanese government agencies have increased collaboration to prevent, protect against, and respond to natural disasters and biological and chemical threats. Given the overlap in capabilities required for responding to a broad range of disasters, making efficient investments in "all- hazards" preparedness is increasingly pivotal a robust crisis preparedness and response system.