Ken Tomabechi Passes, Age 91

May 4, 2020

Dr. Ken Tomabechi, a leading figure in the world fusion effort, passed away by sudden heart attack April 24, 2020 in Japan at the age of 91. He was a recipient of Fusion Power Associates Distinguished Career Award 20 years earlier, in 2000, in recognition of his many accomplishments and his “essential contributions to fusion international collaboration.”

Ken was born in Japan in 1929, the son of Josuke and Ritsu Tomabechi. He received his Ph.D. from Tohoku University and worked since 1957 at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) and with the Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation in Japan. He contributed to the development and construction of early nuclear fission reactors such as JRR-1, JRR-4 and JOYO, and later turned his attention to fusion development, participating in the construction of the JT-60 tokamak at JAERI, where he served as the Director of JT-60 Construction Department, and then Director General of JAERI Naka Fusion Research Establishment. He later joined the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry in Tokyo.

For two years (1966-68) he worked for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. In the late 1970s and most of 1980s he participated in the IAEA-sponsored international design effort of a fusion engineering test reactor called INTOR. When the world fusion effort turned its attention to designing the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) following the 1985 Reagan-Gorbachov Summit Meeting, many of the INTOR design personnel joined the ITER design team and Ken served (1988-1990) as chair of the international design activities management committee.

He has co-authored a number of important scientific and policy papers (https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/30709400_Ken_Tomabechi) including: Generation of Net Electric Power with a Tokamak Reactor Under Foreseeable Physical and Engineering Conditions. He presented a paper, A Road Map for Laser Fusion Energy, at Fusion Power Associates 2003 Annual Meeting (https://fire.pppl.gov/fpa_annual03.html). He also published a personal perspective essay on fusion in Chapter 12: Reflections 2012, in the 2013 book Search for the Ultimate Energy Source (Springer ISBN 978-1-4614-6036-7).

We are saddened to hear of the passing of this great man.

Colleagues may send condolences and remembrances to his daughter,

Ms. Yoko Tomabechi
4-15-14 Nakahara Mitaka City
Tokyo 181-0005

emails may be sent to his colleague Hiroshi Horiike, Prof. Emeritus Osaka University at: Hiroshi Horiike mailto:horiike@nucl.eng.osaka-u.ac.jp.