Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga outlines a green and digital future for Japan

Japanese leader reveals plans for the environment, digitalisation, free trade and the Olympics

This video grab taken on January 29, 2021, from the website of the World Economic Forum shows  Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, addressing an all-virtual World Economic Forum, which usually takes place in Davos, Switzerland.  - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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The Japanese Prime Minister hailed his country’s world-leading green drive to boost economy during his speech at the WEF Summit on Friday.

Yoshihide Suga began his address by explaining his country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his plans for the environment, digitalisation, free trade and the Olympics.

The prime minister acknowledged that the coronavirus crisis was affecting the health and lives of Japanese people, as well as business and the economy.

He said: “I am resolved that I am going to find an answer to the difficult challenges and lead the world by growing the Japanese economy.”

Mr Suga vowed to do the “utmost for the closure of this pandemic. I'm determined to ride over this difficulty, no one's health is left behind.”

He said that with the season being winter, the number of new cases was still high in Japan.

“We want to get the infection (rate) and Covid-19 pandemic under control as quickly as possible to enable people to regain a safe lifestyle,” Mr Suga said.

He highlighted how Japan had bolstered vaccine supply for developing nations by pledging more than $130 million.

Mr Suga then outlined plans to build a new engine for the growth that would propel the Japanese and global economy – a green and digital country.

“My administration declared last year that we go carbon neutral by 2050,” Mr Suga said. He expects this green revolution to create jobs for 15 million people.

“We will be moving forward with decisive enhancements of renewable energy, such as hydrogen and ocean windfarm, and regarding electric vehicles we plan that by 2035 all new vehicle sales will be 100 per cent electric,” he said.

The prime minister explained his vision for digitalisation, saying the pandemic has presented severe challenges but that plans will now be accelerated.

He said a digital agency will be established as the command centre directly reporting to him and it will commence its activities in autumn, helping to create a technologically progressive Japan.

“We will work with all our efforts so that Japan is a nation of science and technology that can lead the world with our innovation, even in a post Covid-era,” Mr Suga said.

The prime minister emphasised his “unwavering commitment to free trade” and pledged that Japan will lead efforts towards expanding free and fair economic areas and strengthening rules for a multilateral free trading system.

Referring to the World Trade Organisation, Mr Suga said: “While we continue to proactively work on WTO reform, we will show our leadership in realising what we call free flow of data with trust through the e-commerce negotiation at WTO.”

Of his country's relations with the Indo-Pacific nations, he said: “Japan will collaborate with like-minded countries and strategically promote our efforts to make free and open Indo-Pacific concept a reality.”

The prime minister stressed the importance of multilateralism and said that Japan will “work together with the international community to live up to the challenge of global issues in order to realise a united world”.

Mr Suga also highlighted Japan’s role as host of the Olympic Games saying that he is resolved to deliver it in a safe and secure manner.

The prime minister said: “The future beyond is full of hope. The Olympic (Games) will offer hope and courage to the whole world as a testimony of mankind prevailing over Covid-19 – and as a symbol of the unity of the world.”

The Olympics were due to be staged in Japan in 2020 but were cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. The event is now scheduled to take place from July 23.