August 29, 2017
Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor No. 4
In May, 80 researchers from Ukraine and Japan gathered in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, to work on research related to radioactivity. It was the first meeting on joint research exploring methods of restoring the environment after radioactive pollution*1. In 2016, the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the decision was made to carry out this research. A news conference was attended by Professor Kenji Nanba of Fukushima University, H.E. Shigeki Sumi the current Japanese ambassador to Ukraine, H.E. Ostap Semerak, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine and others.
※Research results from SATREPS in Ukraine are expected to be put to use in restoring the environment of Fukushima, which is working to cope with the results of its own nuclear accident.
Researchers from Ukraine and Japan stand at a checkpoint to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
A diving survey in the ocean near coral reefs of Palau
This joint research was carried out under JICA's framework known as SATREPS, or Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development. SATREPS is a program in which universities and other research bodies in Japan and developing countries carry out joint research in fields including the environment, energy, bioresources, disaster prevention and mitigation, and infectious diseases control. Through this joint research, both sides aim to develop human resources and return concrete results to society. JICA and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) partnered to start SATREPS in 2008*2.
Other SATREPS initiatives include research on earthquakes and tsunamis in Turkey*3. This research involves observing earthquakes on the bottom of the ocean in the region, which has a high earthquake probability. It is expected to be useful in elucidating the mechanism of potential earthquakes that directly hit the Tokyo area and potential consolidated earthquakes in the Tokai, Tonankai and Nankai areas, both of which are causes for apprehension in Japan.
Also, some of the SATREPS joint research partners are agencies Japan helped agencies establish. For example, the Palau International Coral Reef Center, which works on countermeasures to climate change by elucidating the ecosystems of coral reefs was established with Japanese grant assistance and has built up its capacity with JICA technical cooperation*4.
Chayote represented the first approved transfer of genetic resources from Mexico to Japan
Some initiatives don't look standout but have the possibility of greatly changing the world. One initiative involves joint research with Mexico on managing the genetic resources of living creatures, which are said to be a 21st century strategic resource because those are indispensable to developing medical and pharmaceutical products and selectively breeding crops*5. It has produced concrete results*6.
The research leader of the Ukraine initiative, Mr. Nanba, said, "If there were no SATREPS, a research organization this large, with 12 Ukrainian research bodies participating, could not have been formed. I would like SATREPS to work from a broad viewpoint on post-nuclear-accident environmental management and related research, a focus of international agencies and other countries."
SATREPS is marking the 10th year of its existence. So far SATREPS has adopted 125 projects, with 47 countries carrying them out. In Japan and overseas, SATREPS has resulted in more than 2,500 papers published in academic journals, more than 8,000 academic presentations and 50 patent applications.
Toru Shimoda, deputy director of the Office for Science and Technology Cooperation, JICA, said, "We want to deepen our research and development partnerships and search for an approach in which science and technology contribute to development cooperation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."
*2 Research on infectious diseases was handed off to the Japan Agency for Medical Research and development (AMED) in 2015 (excluding matters completed by 2014).
*6 Based on the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity , Tsukuba University acquired chayote, a plant genetic resource, when it was transferred from Mexico to Japan as the first approved transfer of genetic resources. This example was introduced at the 13th meeting of signatory nations to the Convention on Biological Diversity in December of last year.