Before the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, 54 nuclear power plants were used in Japan to produce about 30% of the total electricity. After the severe accident in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, mainly caused by the massive tsunami, the nuclear power plants in Japan were shut down one by one and the last one (Tomari Nuclear Power Station Unit No. 3) was shut down in May 2012. By the end of 2018, however, 15 nuclear-power reactors passed the new regulation standard issued in 2013, and nine of them have been restarted. As a result, the ratio of the electricity produced by nuclear power plants was recovered to about 5% by 2018. The ratio of the renewable energy is increasing yearly, but the ratio in 2018 was 8% for the hydro power, 6% for the solar power, 2% for the biomass, and 1% for the wind power. The remaining 78% was produced by the thermal power (coal-fired plants 28%, natural gas-fired plants 37%, oil-fired plants 4%, and others 9%). From the viewpoint of mitigation of the global warming, dependence on fossil fuel should be reduced. Although it is expected that the ratio of the solar power and the wind power will continue to increase, the power from these sources is affected by weather conditions greatly and furthermore the development of efficient and large-capacity power storage system is still a very challenging issue. Under these circumstances, nuclear power is an important option to achieve stable supply of a large amount of electricity without greenhouse-gas emission. The Japanese government also recognizes the importance of the nuclear power and considers the desirable ratio of electricity from nuclear power in 2030 is 20–22%. Needless to say from the disaster experienced in Fukushima, continuous effort (Kaizen) for enhanced safety is indispensable to use nuclear power as the power source. The ASME Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science is a very important scientific journal to share the latest research developments in the field of nuclear engineering and radiation science within the specialists in the nuclear/power engineering areas of industry, academia, and government. It is believed that the journal continues to contribute to the enhanced safety of nuclear power.
In the second half, I would like to report the summary of the 27th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering (ICONE-27) as the Chair of the Technical Program Committee (TPC). The ICONE is the international conference launched in 1991 under the mutual collaboration of the ASME and JSME; the Chinese Nuclear Society (CNS) joined the organizing committee in 2005. The ICONE is a very successful conference and held every year from the ICONE-3 in 1995. The main focus of ICONE is on the technical state-of-the-art and the current status of nuclear power around the world. Furthermore, in the student program organized in ICONE, 15 qualified students from each of the four regions in the world (North America, Europe, China, and Asia except for China) are invited to the Student Paper Competition. Hence, the conference also contributes largely to the development of future nuclear professionals. In fact, many persons participated in the ICONE student program have already become leading researchers in the field of nuclear engineering in Japan. As for the 27th ICONE, it was held in Tsukuba, Japan during May 19–24, 2019 under the theme of “Nuclear Power Saves the World!”. In spite of the adverse condition after the Fukushima accident, the ICONE-27 had 999 participants and 753 presentations from 24 countries. We even had the participation of the ASME President, Dr. Richard Laudenat. As the TPC chair, I am confident that not only the number, but also quality of presentations was great at ICONE-27. You may feel the great success of ICONE-27 in the group photo taken after the closing session. One concern encountered at ICONE-27 was that participants from North America were in decreasing trend. The next ICONE will be held in the Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, CA, during August 2–6 of this year. It is our pleasure to collaborate with ASME and CNS for the success of ICONE-28.
Finally, we wish Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science continuous contribution to further development of nuclear engineering as a top journal in this area. We would like to continue close collaboration with ASME toward the achievement of sustainable world.