Tokyo-based Itochu Corporation has agreed to accept shares of US-based fusion start-up Blue Laser Fusion (BLF) through a third-party allotment. Itochu also concluded a strategic and business alliance agreement with BLF regarding fusion energy-related businesses and other related businesses in which the laser technology developed by BLF will be used.

The Integrated Innovation Strategy Promotion Council, an initiative led by Japan’s Cabinet Office, formulated its fusion energy innovation strategy in April 2023. As a result, movement toward the industrialisation of fusion energy is accelerating in Japan, for example through establishment of the Fusion Industry Council., which has the goal of strengthening partnerships between the public, private, and academic sectors.

BLF, a start-up company established in November 2022, is working to commercialise a laser-based fusion reactor using a high-powered laser that is being developed in-house. Shuji Nakamura, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of a high-brightness blue light laser diode, is one of BLF's co-founders. The laser-based fusion method has been drawing attention recently following the successful demonstration experiment carried out in December 2022 at the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In contrast to conventional fusion mainly fuelled by deuterium and tritium, BLF aims to develop “a very safe fusion reactor that does not generate neutron radiation”. It intends to use advanced fuels composed of boron and other materials.

Following growth strategies formulated for the realisation of a decarbonised society, Itochu says it has been continuously implementing measures to achieve related goals. Itochu will move forward with its collaboration with BLF for the commercialisation of fusion energy, while also seeking to promote alliances with a range of fusion energy-related industries and companies leveraging its global network. Itochu says it will work to facilitate the practical use of fusion energy, thereby contributing to the provision of solutions to global environmental issues and energy source depletion problems.