The occurrence of a severe accident in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meant that Japan’s energy policy and nuclear policy required urgent revision. At one point, all domestic nuclear power plants had to stop operating. As at April 2017, although some nuclear power plants have restarted operations, there is not much good news in regard to the use of nuclear power due to the abolition of a prototype reactor, etc., for research in Japan. Another contributor included the bankruptcy of famous manufacturing company including nuclear power operations in the US and Europe. Furthermore, there are even comments insisting that if renewable energy such as solar power is used, the use of nuclear power will be unnecessary. However, there are risks associated with research and development, or business operations in general, that are not limited to the field of nuclear engineering. There is a need to make bold effort toward the improvement and reformation of historically accumulated knowledge, cultivate new ideas, and thoroughly analyze the factors related to the above predicament. In regard to the claim that nuclear power is unnecessary, there is a need for a quantitative verification that considers the engineering and economic validity of its stringency. If a fair and rigorous verification is carried out, nuclear power would be likely to be evaluated as an important option with a good balance overall based on measures such as supply stability, economic rationality, and environmental compatibility, particularly in Japan.
Technology targeting nuclear power or radiation is not yet in general use by consumers. However, there are advanced fields of research in which important and interesting topics have arisen related to research and development comparable to technology targeting space flight or biological cells. Furthermore, nuclear engineering has aspects of interdisciplinary engineering which span across several engineering fields such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or chemical engineering, etc. This department includes a lot of research and education experience related to sensing, large scale system simulation technology, safety science, or economic evaluation, particularly in the various engineering fields. In 2013, the resilience engineering research center, targeting research into the risk management of social technology system, was established. Three of the faculty members of the center share this department.
Since this department’s establishment in 2005, there has been a focus not only on engineering but also on the education of risks and safety from the point of view of social science in its relationship with human society. In order to fulfill the original role of the university from a global long-term perspective, education is carried out via a curriculum that consists of the “stepwise lecture system given in English” and “project-based exercises including internship at international organizations”. Moreover, in conjunction with the departments of Systems Innovations and Technology Management for Innovations, a resilience engineering cross-disciplinary education program aiming to obtain specialized knowledge in risk management of social technology systems is being carried out.
I would like to keep the various lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster in mind and devote my efforts toward training human resources that can contribute to the sustainable development of human society.
Head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management