The accord is the first step in enabling formal arrangements for sharing knowledge and experience between the two companies.

Under the agreement, TEPCO will gain access to the skills available from SMEs engaged in the Sellafield supply chain and provide access for the UK to advancements made at the Fukushima NPP for the coming years.

Sellafield managing director Tony Price said, "We have much that we can help the Japanese with initially, as they move their focus from power generation to cleaning up and decommissioning.

"But the technical expertise of the Japanese is renowned the world over, they are experts in design and manufacturing and, judging by their past performance on everything from motorcycles to nuclear reprocessing -once they start decommissioning in earnest there will be much that they can teach us."

"What this co-operation statement will do is formalise a working relationship which has existed for 60 years, between the UK nuclear industry and the Japanese, and it opens up channels for us to work more closely together now and in the future," Price said.

TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Company (FDEC) president Naohiro Masuda said, "It has been a great honour for me to visit Sellafield and to sign this agreement between our companies.

"We are now three years into the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, and while we have made good progress our biggest challenge has been in shifting the mindset from power generation to decommissioning – working with Sellafield Ltd, who are several years ahead of us in terms of decommissioning, will help us to move forward more quickly."