Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to make official trips to Eastern Europe next month with a plan to promote the export of Japanese nuclear technology. He is scheduled to visit Poland on June 16 to attend a meeting of leaders from the country, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, also known as the Visegrad Four (V4). Prime Minister Abe will use the opportunity to address the leaders of the four countries together to promote and convince them to close projects with Japanese companies for the planned nuclear power plants in the V4 nations.
If the trip pushes through, this will be Japan’s first formal talks with the regional group of the countries known as the Visegrad Four – the group is named for a town in Hungary where the countries formed a multilateral partnership. Japan is hoping to export its nuclear technology to this area, as there are many opportunities for nuclear projects in the V4 nations. The group of nations is looking to have nuclear plants running and operational by 2020. Currently, there are plans to build three reactors in the Czech Republic and two each in Poland and Hungary.
The competition in this area will come mostly from Russian contractors, who logically have a stronger influence in Eastern Europe because of geographical proximity. But some analysts and industry experts feel bullish about Japan’s chances to win an order from the Czech Republic, as Toshiba Corp. and its U.S. subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric Co., received the highest evaluation in the first round of bidding for the project in March.
The trading environment in Eastern Europe – specifically with the V4 countries – is helpful to Japan in that Japan can export nuclear technology to the V4 nations without concluding a nuclear treaty with each of them since they are all members of the European Atomic Energy Community, also known as Euratom. Exporting advanced Japanese nuclear technology has been an obvious path of growth for Abe’s administration – the premier has recently assumed the role of prime promoter of Japan’s nuclear technology abroad, visiting and closing deals in other countries recently including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.