Vietnam reactor deal advances; Japan looks to accept caregivers

by Alex Martin

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Hanoi counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, agreed Monday to move ahead with plans to construct atomic reactors in Vietnam using Japanese technology, despite the rethink of the national energy policy amid the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Noda met with Dung at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo and signed an agreement promising the two nations will move ahead with plans to build two boiling water reactors in Vietnam’s southeast Ninh Thuan Province.

The two also signed strategic partnership agreements to codevelop rare earths and allow qualified Vietnamese nurses and care workers to come to Japan.

“On the economic front, we have made progress on accepting qualified nurse candidates and certified care workers, as well as cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy and joint development of rare earths,” Noda announced following the signing ceremony.

Despite the March disaster and fears that Vietnam may cancel its decision to work with Japan on the reactors, it signed a deal with Japan Atomic Power Co. in September to have a feasibility test for the two new reactors conducted, in an important move for Japan’s nuclear industry, which has been working to expand abroad.

A joint statement released by the two nations said Japan would do its utmost to enhance atomic safety by sharing lessons learned from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident.

Vietnam, in turn, “explained in detail the necessity of nuclear energy for securing energy supply” and expressed a strong desire for nuclear technology from Japan.

Monday’s agreement follows an accord reached in October 2010 that Vietnam would pick Japan as its partner for building two reactors in Ninh Thuan Province.

Noda and Dung also reached an agreement on joint development of rare earth minerals in Dong Pao in Vietnam’s northwest.