Japan and the United States agreed Monday to strengthen bilateral cooperation on developing next-generation nuclear reactors during ministerial talks on energy.

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also agreed during their meeting that Tokyo and Washington will work more closely on securing liquefied natural gas and other energy security matters.

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (2nd from front R) and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (3rd from front L) hold talks in Washington on Jan. 9, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)(Kyodo)

According to a joint statement, Japan and the United States will step up cooperation in developing and constructing next-generation advanced reactors, including small modular reactors, "within each country and third countries."

The two governments already revealed a plan in October to work together on helping Ghana introduce small nuclear reactor technology.

Speaking to reporters after Monday's talks, Nishimura said the U.S. side reacted positively to the recent change of Japan's policy to boost decarbonization.

The Japanese government said last month in a change from its post-Fukushima crisis nuclear energy policy that it may renew old nuclear reactors if necessary. It will also extend the operation limit of aging nuclear reactors beyond 60 years.

"We will explore opportunities for collaboration (with the United States) to make full use of existing reactors and create stronger supply chains," said Nishimura, who serves as minister of economy, trade and industry.

The two countries are expected to reaffirm the cooperation when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Joe Biden meet in Washington on Friday.

The statement said the two governments agreed to maintain a consistent regulatory environment for all energy sources in response to the impact of Russia's war on Ukraine.

U.S. authorities have given final regulatory approval for more than doubling its current natural gas export capacity.

Nishimura and Granholm agreed on the importance of the Group of Seven industrialized nations taking concerted efforts this year under Japan's G-7 presidency to expedite clean energy transitions and ensure energy security consistent with the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050, a target set in the U.N. climate action road map.