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Japan looks to Saudi Arabia for ‘new forms’ of collaboration: Shikata

Japanese Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs SHIKATA Noriyuki. (AN Photo/File)
Japanese Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs SHIKATA Noriyuki. (AN Photo/File)
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02 Dec 2023 07:12:14 GMT9
02 Dec 2023 07:12:14 GMT9

Ali Itani and Diana Farah

DUBAI: Japanese Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs SHIKATA Noriyuki told Arab News Japan that the deep ties between Japan and Saudi Arabia gives way for more opportunities to look into new forms of collaboration. 

“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 ongoing in the UAE, decarbonization is part of many countries’ objectives and green strategies. 

Shikata explained that when Japan’s Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio visited Saudi Arabia in July, it was clear that Saudi Arabia 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.”

Read more:Japan on track to meet emissions targets, Kishida tells COP28

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 big corporations’ carbon emissions, but will also work on 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, India and Bangladesh.

“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 realise 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 project aims to develop a fully functional and operational innovation business centre in Palestine’ Jericho to improve competitiveness of Palestinian businesses operating there.

Since Oct. 7, there have been reports that Israeli strikes damaged Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s offices. 

However, Shikata said that once the situation in Gaza calms down, Japanese organisations will have a “good motivation to go back and support reconstruction.”  

Read more: Cooperation with Saudi Arabia central to Japan’s green ambitions

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