Japan, Asian ministers discuss decarbonization, economic growth

Ministers of Japan and its Asian neighbors gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to discuss their economies and the environment. They are looking at ways to accelerate sustained growth, as well as decarbonization in the region.

The group's first-ever ministerial meeting involves ministers from nine Southeast Asian countries and Australia.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio sent a video message to the event.

Kishida said ensuring stable energy supplies while making efforts toward decarbonization is a major policy challenge.

Kishida said he hopes Japan and Asian nations will work together to establish wide-ranging supply chains.

In the meeting, Japan's industry minister Nishimura Yasutoshi said various realistic approaches toward carbon neutrality should be taken, with consideration for the circumstances of each country.

He also said Japan will work to develop zero-emission technologies and expand markets for them, thereby reducing costs.

Participants discussed how to promote decarbonization in Southeast Asian countries, which are highly reliant on coal for power generation. Energy consumption is rising in emerging economies as they grow.

Japanese officials said Japan will help countries develop methods to mix coal with ammonia or hydrogen, which do not produce CO2 when burned.

They also said Tokyo will provide financial assistance for such efforts.

Achieving both carbon neutrality and economic growth is also likely to be on the agenda for the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May.

As G7 chair, Japan apparently hopes to take the zero-emission initiative through joint efforts by the public and private sectors.