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Japan: Visit By UK Energy Minister
Matthew Hancock advances work with Japan on nuclear, new generation, low-emission vehicles and investment in hydrogen infrastructure.
Matthew Hancock, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Energy, was in Japan 7-9 October, meeting key ministers, investors in the UK, and media.
Climate and Energy
The Minister called for more nuclear collaboration e.g. bringing partnerships developed in the UK new build programme back to the Japanese market. He promoted an ambitious approach on climate change, particularly for post-2020 targets and in international negotiations. And he promoted the importance of innovation in tackling climate change – with hydrogen as a good example where both countries were investing in technology and infrastructure.
The Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) welcomed collaboration on nuclear and agreed on the role of innovation to tackle climate change. They hoped to make progress on nuclear restarts which would help their climate ambition. The Environment Ministry wanted to maximise renewables (including floating wind) and better energy efficiency. They planned to accelerate domestic climate target discussions so as to submit their post-2020 contribution as early as possible. Japan wanted a ‘fair and effective’ international framework applicable to all, commensurate with national circumstances and with peer-reviewed targets.
Trade and transparency
METI and MFA welcomed close cooperation on EU-Japan FTA negotiations, and agreed that an ambitious approach was needed to deliver political agreement by end 2015. METI also wanted to deepen ties on technological innovation, and agreed to pursue closer cooperation with us on the deregulation agenda. The Minister also discussed possible Japanese membership of the Open Government Partnership.
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Hitachi and Toshiba welcomed news of the State-Aid decision for Hinkley Point C, which will enable them to accelerate their projects.
Honda were streamlining production in Swindon, as part of a restructuring aimed at regaining a foundation in the UK. They announced three new models to be launched in Europe next year at the recent Paris Motor Show. Nissan were focused on EV production.
The Minister took a demonstration ride in Toyota’s concept hydrogen vehicle at their flagship plant in Nagoya and hosted a dinner for Tier 1 automotive parts suppliers with a UK manufacturing or R&D presence. Toyota welcomed Regional Growth Fund support for their UK operations. Despite a slowing European production market, they saw the UK both as a market and a centre of excellence for research collaboration. A strong supply chain was a key strength. Maintaining skilled labour (especially engineers), easier intra-company transfers and addressing public concerns about the safety of hydrogen technology were key concerns. Toyota and Tier 1 suppliers both welcomed the Minister’s announcement of support for developing UK hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure, and saw hydrogen (more than battery power) as the next emerging key vehicle technology.