TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to lead efforts to simultaneously achieve decarbonization, economic growth, and energy security in Asia, an ambitious goal he set Monday at a regional climate summit attended by Southeast Asian leaders.
Kishida told the summit of the Asia Zero Emission Community, or AZEC, that the initiative will create “a new, huge decarbonization market in Asia that will attract global capital.”
Decarbonization in Asia will require 4,000 trillion yen (USD 28 trillion), Kishida said, and promised to establish a new organization to support AZEC countries in their effort to implement the policies needed to achieve carbon neutrality.
Leaders of nine member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations except Myanmar, in addition to Australia, expressed commitment to cooperating toward achieving carbon neutrality. The summit was held one day after Japan hosted a special summit Sunday commemorating 50 years of ties with ASEAN.
As part of the AZEC initiative, Japan is offering to help other members with technologies to cut emissions, including co-firing technology using ammonia or hydrogen, as well as bendable and more mobile solar panels.
Kishida said Japan will cooperate with AZEC members in setting a decarbonization roadmap and other measures, while also offering support in funding, technology, and human resources by establishing the Asia Zero Emission Center in Indonesia.
Japan has achieved a 20 percent emissions reduction and is on course to meet the targeted 46 percent by 2030, saying it will achieve its net-zero goal by boosting renewables as the main source of power, utilizing nuclear power, and taking other measures.
Japan has faced criticism from environmental groups for not setting a timeline to stop using fossil fuels. Kishida, at the COP28 summit in Dubai, promised that Japan will end new construction at the home of unabated coal-fired power plants, in a show of clearer determination than in the past toward achieving net zero.
Kishida has also pledged that Japan will issue the world’s first government transition bond with international certification. Japanese officials say Japan aims to fund 20 trillion yen (USD 135 billion) over the next 10 years to promote private sector investment worth 150 trillion yen (USD 1 trillion).
Japan will contribute to the expansion of lending capacity totaling about USD 9 billion through the provision of credit enhancements to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, and will also make a separate contribution to the new fund of the African Development Bank, Kishida said.
In a separate meeting, Prime Minister Kishida met with Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone to strengthen the relationship between the two nations. The discussion revolved around Japan’s keen interest in enhancing cooperation, particularly in bolstering Laos during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2024. The leaders also emphasized the ongoing support that Japan is extending to Laos, encompassing areas such as human resource development, financial stabilization, and infrastructure enhancement.
BY MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press & Associated Press video journalist Ayaka McGill contributed to this report.