The UK and Japan on 22 December  signed an agreement expanding cooperation in the nuclear energy sector and paving the way for Japanese companies to build nuclear power plants in the UK, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a statement.

The agreement also covers cooperation in the areas of decommissioning and decontamination and it is anticipated that the deal will give UK companies with advanced technologies greater access to projects at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear station, which suffered three reactor meltdowns after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  The agreement, signed in Tokyo, is the first of its kind for Japan, while UK Industry minister, Greg Clark described it as “vital” to the UK's industrial strategy and the development of clean energy sources.

A key components of the agreement is the proposal to build new reactors in the UK. Two Japan-led consortia, Horizon and NuGen, are developing plans to build new nuclear projects in the UK. Horizon, bought by Hitachi from a German company in 2012, has delivered the outline of a project at Wylfa Newydd in Wales, and has plans to build as many as six reactors in the UK. Toshiba joint venture NuGen is planning the Moorside NPP in Cumbria, northwest England, and is considering additional projects. The first of the three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Moorside is targeted to come online in the mid-2020s.

"The UK is a world leader in nuclear decommissioning and waste management, and closer collaboration with Japan will deliver real benefits for both countries in ensuring a sustainable future for nuclear power," BEIS said.   "Horizon's proposed project on Anglesey and NuGen's proposed project in Cumbria could create up to 20,000 jobs in the UK and provide close to 15% of the UK's electricity needs," BEIS noted. "It is also estimated that they would bring around GBP20bn ($25bn) worth of contracts to the UK's supply chain companies."