The EU-Japan Centre is pleased to start a new weekly service by publishing brief summary of the latest information from the Japanese governmental organizations & private companies/organizations. A couple of minutes reading to be informed about what is happening in Japan's policy, economy, EU-Japan relations, and innovation.
*Information is deemed correct at the time of release.
G7 summit concluded
The G7 Summit was held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21. In addition to the G7, the president Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, as well as the leaders of India, Brazil, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Comoros, and the Cook Islands also participated in this summit, making it the largest summit ever. During the summit, nine sessions were held, including working lunches and dinners, and individual talks between Prime Minister Kishida and each leader amounted to 18 times.
There were various evaluations of the conference from inside and outside Japan. But by the factors that; 1) Calling strongly for the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons from Hiroshima, where the atomic bomb was dropped, 2) The face-to-face participation of President Zelensky and 3) Having been able to share information with the Global South major countries, there are many evaluations that Prime Minister Kishida achieved a certain result.
On the other hand, there was strong criticism from Russia and China, which were mentioned separately in the summit communiqué, and there is a view that the division of the world became clearer at this summit.
MOFA website for G7 summit:
G7 Hiroshima Summit Leaders’ Communiqué announced on the day before the final day
The communiqué of the leaders of the G7 summit, which was held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21, was announced on May 20, taking into account the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The details of the communiqué were posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and were also reported by various media, but the main contents of the communiqué related to the environment, energy and digital fields are as follows.
In the fields of climate change and energy, in order to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2050 at the latest, G7 will increase the pace of transition to clean energy and take action toward economic transformation. Furthermore, regarding renewable energy, G7 needs to significantly accelerate the development and introduction of next-generation technologies. It includes numerical targets to increase offshore wind power generation by 150 gigawatts to six times the current level and solar power generation to more than 1 terawatt, nearly three times the current level, by 2030.
Regarding coal-fired power plants, G7 will prioritize concrete efforts to phase out power plants that have not taken measures to reduce emissions, and will ask other countries to stop new construction as soon as possible. G7 will help emerging and developing countries, also known as the “Global South,” transition to a climate-resilient, circular economy in diverse and practical ways that take into account their respective circumstances.
In the environmental field, G7 has set a new goal to eliminate further pollution from plastic waste by 2040. In the automobile sector, the G7 decided to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by half compared to 2000 by 2035, based on the number of cars owned by each country, and to confirm the progress of the initiative every year. In the aviation sector, the introduction of alternative fuels called "SAF" made from plants and waste oil is also included in order to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to virtually zero by 2050.
Regarding the digital field, while rapid technological innovation has strengthened society and the economy, it has been pointed out that international regulations have not caught up. On top of that, it emphasizes that systems for cutting-edge technologies such as AI and the Metaverse must be based on democratic values. It instructs relevant ministers of G7 countries to launch the "Hiroshima AI Process" to discuss generative AI, and includes discussions at a working group within the year. In addition, they confirmed that they will establish an international framework and cooperate with each other to create specific systems, based on the importance of cross-border distribution of highly reliable data, known as "DFFT," to improve the accuracy of AI.
MOFA website (G7 communiqué):
UK-Japan partnership agreements issued in renewable energy and semiconductor fields
On May 19, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced that it had issued a joint statement on semiconductor partnerships with the UK's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology. In addition, on the previous day, on Mat 18, it announced that it had issued a joint statement with the Ministry of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) on a partnership to strengthen cooperation on renewable energy.
As for the former, 1) consider conducting joint research and development, particularly on semiconductor design, compound semiconductors, and advanced semiconductor material technology, 2) cooperate on sharing expertise, developing human resources, and accessing research facilities. 3) conduct public-private semiconductor industry dialogues, 4) dispatch expert missions to strengthen industry-academia-government collaboration toward the formation of joint projects; are main contents.
Regarding the latter, the main content is that both countries work to diversify supply sources through advances in offshore wind power and other clean energy technologies in order to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. It also advocates strengthening partnerships in areas such as cooperation on offshore wind power generation and international standardization of perovskite solar cells.
At the G7 meeting held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21, the G7 as a whole decided to increase the capacity of offshore wind power generation by 150GW by 2030 in order to expand renewable energy globally and reduce costs. They also reconfirmed that they would strengthen the capacity of solar power to 1 TW (1,000 GW) or more by 2030.
IBM, Google, etc. contribute JP￥29 billion to universities in Japan and the United States in the field of semiconductors and quantum computers On May 21, companies and universities in Japan and the United States announced that they would contribute more than $210 million (approximately JP¥29 billion) in total to the education and technological development of semiconductors and quantum computers. In the field of semiconductors, US Micron Technology and Tokyo Electron will partner with 11 Japanese and US universities to jointly develop educational programs. In the quantum field, IBM and Google will contribute funds to the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo, respectively.
In the field of semiconductors, Micron and Tokyo Electron will form alliances with Tohoku University, Virginia Tech, and 11 other universities in Japan and the United States. Over the next five years, the companies plans to invest more than $60 million in developing curricula for cutting-edge education. 5,000 students are expected to benefit each year. In the quantum field, IBM will invest $100 million in the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo over the next 10 years, and Google will fund both schools up to $50 million over 10 years.
The governments of Japan and the United States plan to hold annual high-level dialogue on education. U.S. Secretary of State Brinken, who attended the signing ceremony, said that cooperation in science and technology between Japan and the U.S. is "one of the smartest investments that can be made for the national and economic security of our two nations."
Honda to enter F1 for the fifth time, with Aston Martin from 2026
Honda announced on May 24 that it will participate in F1 from 2026 and will supply power units based on the new regulations with the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. F1 has set a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. From 2026 onwards, the use of 100% carbon-neutral fuel will be mandatory, and 50% of maximum power output will come from the engine and 50% from the electric motor.
Honda commented on the website that the new regulation change is in line with Honda's carbon-neutral direction and has great significance for the development of future technologies to realize it, so it has decided to participate in the new race.
Honda entered F1 for the first time in 1964. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it built a golden age in combination with McLaren. Due to the deterioration of business performance due to the Lehman Shock, the activities of the third period ended in 2008, but returned in 2015 with the supply of power units (PU) to McLaren. However, in 2021, when Red Bull Honda's Max Verstappen (Netherlands) won the overall victory, it withdrew again due to the concentration of resources on environmental technology.
METI implements export restrictions on semiconductor manufacturing equipment, etc.
On May 23, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) promulgated revisions to the Ministerial Ordinance on Goods, etc. based on the Foreign Exchange Law. Twenty-three items, including advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment, will be subject to export controls. After a two-month publicity period, it will come into force on July 23. The United States has severely restricted exports of cutting-edge semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China, and Japan is following suit.
Based on the Foreign Exchange Law, Japan controls the export of civilian goods such as weapons that can be used for military purposes. Prior approval is required for export. Although China and other specific countries/regions have not been named as subject to regulation, the 23 items to be added will require individual licenses, excluding those for 42 countries/regions such as friendly countries. The 23 items include manufacturing equipment for extreme ultraviolet (EUV)-related products and etching equipment for stacking memory elements three-dimensionally.
The United States has severely restricted exports to China of advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment used in supercomputers and artificial intelligence (AI). Japan and the Netherlands, which have technology, were also requested to take similar measures. Chinese authorities announced on May 21 that the products of the US semiconductor giant Micron Technology pose a big risk to national security, and would stop procurement for critical information infrastructure. It appears to be aimed at countering the measures taken by the United States.
METI website (in Japanese):
"Fugaku" ranked second for the third consecutive period, supercomputer world ranking
RIKEN announced on May 22 that the supercomputer "Fugaku Fugaku" jointly developed with Fujitsu ranked second in the world ranking "TOP500" competing for calculation speed. The ranking is announced twice a year at an international conference of supercomputer researchers, and Fugaku has been second for three straight terms since last May.
America's state-of-the-art machine "Frontier" maintained the top position for the third consecutive term. Fugaku had held the top spot for four consecutive terms since June 2020, but lost the top spot in May last year. The calculation speed of Frontier is 119 ten quadrillion 4,000 trillion times per second, and Fugaku is 44 ten quadrillion 2,010 trillion times per second. The top 10 lineup remained unchanged.
On the other hand, Fugaku has maintained the top spot for the seventh consecutive year in two categories: HPCG, which measures the processing speed of calculations used in industrial applications, and Graph500, which is an index of big data analysis capabilities.
University-originated start-up companies increased by 477 year-on-year
On May 16, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced the number of university start-up companies as of October 2022. According to this, 477 companies increased to the previous year, bringing the total to 3,782 companies. Keio University led the increase in the number of cases, and the expansion of support in collaboration with venture capital (VC) was successful. On the other hand, about 120 companies were dissolved as a whole. No. of by university is follows; 371 by the University of Tokyo, 267 by the University of Kyoto, 236 by Keio University, 217 by the University of Tsukuba, and 191 by the University of Osaka.
There are also challenges for revitalizing university-launched startups. Advanced technology startups that make use of research results often take time to commercialize and implement them in society, making it difficult to raise large amounts of funding from VCs. Changes in capital markets due to interest rate hikes mainly in the United States and Europe will also act as a headwind.
The five-year startup development plan launched by the Japanese government in November 2022 aims to start 50 companies per university. As the environment surrounding startups changes rapidly, deepening and evolving collaboration between industry, government, and academia is required.
METI website (in Japanese):
Small ammonia synthesis facility installs in Ukraine renewable energy project
Tsubame BHB, a venture company originating from Tokyo Institute of Technology (University), announced on May 23 that it will participate in the "Green Industrial Zone Project" promoted by Bucha, Ukraine. The project will produce hydrogen and ammonia from renewable energy such as solar and wind power, and sell them as electricity, fuel, fertilizer, etc. to the region. The total land area of the project is expected to be 3,000 hectares.
In this project, the company will examine the possibility of ammonia production using a small ammonia synthesis facility. The company has three models (500 tons/year, 3,000 tons/year, and 5,000 tons/year) of small ammonia synthesis equipment.
Ammonia currently on the market is manufactured using technology that was invented 100 years ago, and requires high temperature, high pressure, and large-scale plants. In contrast, Tsubame BHB's technology for low-temperature, low-pressure, small-scale production using an electride catalyst is the only technology in the world that can provide ammonia efficiently and at low cost, and is required for this project. It is suitable for the amount of on-site ammonia production that is required. Through this initiative, the company hopes to contribute to the achievement of Ukraine's goal of energy independence and resilience.
Tsubame BHB website: