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Japan, Turkey ink N-plant accord 31 octobre 2013

Posted by Acturca in Economy / Economie, Energy / Energie, Turkey / Turquie.
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The Japan News, 31 October 2013

By Chiaki Toyoda, Istanbul

The Turkish government and a consortium of Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and France’s Areva, SA signed an accord Tuesday under which Japan will export its nuclear power plant technology by constructing four reactors in Sinop on the Black Sea coast of Turkey.

This has been a fruit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s « top salesmanship » strategy in promoting Japan’s exports in infrastructure as it marks the first export of Japan’s nuclear power plant technology since the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Abe and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the accord at summit talks Tuesday evening.

At a joint press conference afterwards, Abe said: « It is our country’s responsibility to enhance the safety of nuclear power in the world, by letting the international community share the lessons learned from the nuclear accident [at Fukushima]. »

Erdogan said he believed his country needed nuclear power plants, adding that his government would move on to the next step.

Both leaders agreed the two countries should jointly establish a science and technology university with the aim of fostering manpower in the field of nuclear power technology. They announced a joint declaration concerning the bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear power and science and technology.

The four planned nuclear reactors would have an estimated combined power output of 4.4 million kilowatts, with the total project expected to cost more than 22 billion dollars.

Upon the approval of the Turkish parliament, the Grand National Assembly, the business consortium and the Turkish government are expected to formally sign a contract. The four reactors are scheduled to start operating in 2023.

Erdogan also said at the press conference that his country would aim to start talks soon to conclude an economic partnership agreement with Japan.

Prior to the summit talks, Abe attended a ceremony to celebrate the opening of an undersea subway crossing the Bosporus.

The construction of the undersea subway was launched in 2004 by a joint venture of Taisei Corp., a Japanese general contractor that constructed the undersea Seikan Tunnel connecting Honshu and Hokkaido, and Turkish companies. With the total construction cost of 390.1 billion yen, Japan contributed about 1.5 billion dollars (about 150 billion yen) in yen loans.

‘Top salesmanship’

In a series of official visits to foreign countries, including his latest visit to Turkey–and second in just six months, Abe is putting emphasis on his « top salesmanship » strategy in promoting Japan’s exports of infrastructure technology, including the railway system and nuclear power technology.

As the Diet is no longer divided, Abe has more time to pursue top-level diplomacy. With this newly found momentum, Abe hopes to help realize the growth strategy of his administration, viewed as the third arrow of his three-arrow economic policy, designed to reinvigorate the economy.

« This is a historic achievement made through the bilateral cooperation between Japan and Turkey. I would like to pay my respects to the enthusiasm for making the impossible possible, » said Abe as he hailed the completion of the cross-Bosporus undersea subway at a reception held Monday in Istanbul.

The construction of an undersea subway crossing the Bosporus–a new major arterial route that links the continents of Asia and Europe–has been a project which Turkey had long dreamed of realizing. Taisei Corp. won the contract to construct the 13.6-kilometer-long undersea tunnel.

The undersea tunnel–the world’s deepest at about 60 meters–cuts across the strait using the « submerged tunneling method, » by submerging and connecting 11 concrete tunnel segments, measuring from 98 meters to 135 meters in length, with a margin of error of only a few centimeters. The Bosporus has a fast water current, with the tide flowing in different directions depending on the depth of the sea. Because of these factors, the construction of the cross-strait tunnel was considered so difficult that some of Taisei’s competitors had shied away from taking part in the bidding for the project.

Taisei succeeded in completing the construction of the cross-strait tunnel by researching such factors as the water current, temperature and climate.

Placing export of infrastructure as a pillar of its growth strategy, the Abe administration has set a goal of receiving orders worth 30 trillion yen in 2020, triple the volume from the current figure, including 7 trillion yen from the transportation field, such as railway construction.

The goal for the energy field, such as nuclear power plant construction, is even higher: 9 trillion yen. To avoid the nation’s economy from stalling as Japan faces a consumption tax hike next year, expectations are high on nuclear power construction, reflected in the large volume of nuclear power plant orders. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited emerging nations in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and other regions since he took office in December last year, and pitched sales for nuclear power plant construction.

However, some observers point out that Japan has begun facing adverse winds due to such factors as the leak of contaminated water from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

For a construction plan in Turkey, Japan won a close race with China and South Korea, and Abe himself attended a signing ceremony of the Japan-Turkey nuclear accord in May.

Nuclear accords with Turkey and Saudi Arabia are expected to be approved at the current Diet session.

The prime minister’s visits to Turkey twice in six months are extraordinary, but Abe strongly felt he should do so. An aide close to Abe said, « [The prime minister] wanted to reaffirm a successful experience there. » Abe seems to wish to start being proactive in nuclear-related exports, using Turkey as his model.

‘Packaging’

A key factor to win orders in other emerging nations, as Japan did in Turkey for railway and nuclear plant construction, is to provide valuable software skills.

In the subway construction under the Bosporus Strait, the Japan International Cooperation Agency invited people from Turkey to Japan to explain how to manage the operation of the trains.

Another important factor concerning infrastructure exports to emerging nations is facility maintenance. While China and South Korea have the advantage of low prices, Japan seeks to win orders through « packaging »–a combination of highly sophisticated infrastructure and personnel training.

Concerning a high-speed railway construction connecting the India’s largest city of Mumbai and the industrial city of Ahmedabad, Japan and India agreed to conduct joint research on the construction. Along with the project expected to cost up to 1 trillion yen, the Japanese side has proposed to cooperate not only by providing rail cars and operating system, but also with management and maintenance.

To help Japanese firms win business orders, Abe plans to visit India as early as January.

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