DUBAI: Japanese Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs Shikata Noriyuki told Arab News Japan that deep ties between his country and Saudi Arabia will pave the way for more opportunities to collaborate.
“There are emerging opportunities for a new way of life,” he said. “Especially if Saudi Arabia takes a leading role in presenting this new way of life with regards to sustainability issues.”
With COP28 talks taking place in the UAE, decarbonization is part of many countries’ objectives and green strategies.
Shikata said that when Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio visited Saudi Arabia in July, it was clear that the Kingdom was on a path to transformation.
“We sense very rapid change taking place in the Kingdom. It’s very impressive,” he added.
Japan is also working on its own transformation, specifically a green one. The cabinet secretary said, however, that the change will need collaboration with the Gulf region as well as other Asian countries.
“We want to work on joint projects or investments to encourage such a green transformation in the rest of Asia,” he said. “This is kind of conducive to our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
At COP28, Japan introduced its new strategy to achieve a carbon-zero economy, which includes the idea of carbon pricing for the first time.
Japan not only will focus on the carbon emissions of major corporations, but also target zero-emission housing.
“This includes insulated windows to avoid extra heating costs,” Shikata said.
Other initiatives have been put in place, including the newly announced India-Middle East trade corridor.
“Japan is very attentive to this connectivity initiative between India and the Middle East,” he said, adding that a similar project is in the works with other Asian countries.
“We want to combine smart houses and urban transport so that we are eventually talking about smart, sustainable and carbon-neutral cities,” Shikata told Arab News Japan.
The conditions in Gaza have also been a topic of conversation at COP28, and Japan has consistently supported a two-state solution in order to realize peace.
“We have been working on the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park and trying to create jobs,” the cabinet secretary said, adding that Japan is encouraging its companies to invest. “However, with the political situation, it is very difficult to encourage investment.”
The industrial park aims to develop a fully functional and operational innovation business center in Palestine’s Jericho to improve the competitiveness of local businesses operating there.
There have been reports that Israeli strikes since Oct. 7 had damaged Japan International Cooperation Agency offices in Gaza.
However, Shikata said that once the situation in the enclave calms down, Japanese organizations will have “good motivation to go back and support reconstruction.”
* This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan, click here to read it.