Japan to set up panel for promoting nuclear fusion development

Japan's government says it will set up an expert panel to promote the development of nuclear fusion, which is seen as a next-generation source of energy, with plans to present a concrete strategy around next April.

Economic Security Minister Takaichi Sanae told reporters on Tuesday that the panel will include experts on nuclear fusion technology and those who work in the industry.

They will discuss when to start proving tests for power generation by nuclear fusion, how to grow the industry, and how to promote development.

Takaichi said there is hope for nuclear fusion power as a clean energy source, and that international competition is accelerating.

She also said Japan will consider its strategy for research and development, as well as how to grow the industry.

Nuclear fusion is a reaction that happens inside the sun and other stars. Massive amounts of energy can potentially be extracted by artificially creating such reactions, without producing carbon dioxide or high-level radioactive waste.

A large experimental facility is being built under an international project called ITER, involving Japan, the United States, the European Union and others. Venture firms and China have also launched development projects, making the competition more intense.

But many technical challenges remain. There are no concrete projections yet for when nuclear fusion will be put to practical use.