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Former ministers of economy, trade and industry lend weight to discussions on hydrogen use

  • May 10, 2022
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

Hydrogen is reputed to be a “dream fuel” as it does not generate CO2 when burned. The Liberal Democratic Party began paying close attention to it in around 2013, when Toyota Motor announced the launch of the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle (FCV).

 

Back then, a “study group to promote the realization of a hydrogen society centered on FCVs” was launched under the leadership of then Lower House member Koike Yuriko, who is currently the governor of Tokyo.

 

“We started with a small group of fewer than 20 people,” said Lower House member Kudo Shozo, a founding member of the group. “I’m pleased to see how the group has grown.” The group has been reorganized to form the “parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of hydrogen” and is led by former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Obuchi Yuko.

 

“Many companies are starting hydrogen businesses,” said Obuchi. “It is used not only in FCVs, but also in fuel cells for home use.” Expectations are growing for hydrogen, driven by the decarbonization trend.

 

The bill of revisions to the Act on the Rationalization of Energy Use, which the government has submitted to the current Diet session, focuses on the use of hydrogen and calls for using it as a non-fossil fuel energy source. The parliamentarians’ league and other related groups within the LDP are serving as points of contact to receive proposals and petitions from businesses. These groups have some clout because their membership includes past ministers of economy, trade and industry.

 

At present, the parliamentarians’ league has 100-plus members. Because of that, the use of hydrogen is attracting more attention, and discussions are becoming more dynamic.

 

“Japan has many promising technologies, and it will become important how we can link them together,” said former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi, who now heads the newly launched “project team on the promotion of a structural shift in energy and industry to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.”

 

There are only 170 hydrogen refueling stations for FCVs nationwide, including those under development. More work is needed in this area.

 

Kudo finds there is more room for deregulation in areas such as the staff allocation in hydrogen management, “There are ministries and agencies that resist change, and politicians must take the initiative to break this barrier.”

 

Former State Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Makihara Hideki stresses the need for domestic production of hydrogen. “The shipment of hydrogen from overseas consumes a huge amount of energy as it must be liquefied for transport and then turned into gas again.”

 

Makihara heads the “parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of carbon recycling technologies,” which is paying close attention to a synthetic fuel made of CO2 and hydrogen. (Abridged)

 

Organizations on hydrogen promotion

Parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of hydrogen

Its predecessor group was established in 2013 and led by Koike Yuriko.

Project team on the promotion of a structural shift in energy and industry to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050

Launched in 2022; now approaching various industries to learn about their decarbonization efforts.  

 

Parliamentarians involved in hydrogen promotion

Obuchi Yuko

(Elected to Lower House eight times)

Chairman of the parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of hydrogen. Former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Kajiyama Hiroshi

(Elected to Lower House eight times)

Leader of the project team on the promotion of a structural shift in energy and industry to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. Former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Watanabe Hiromichi

(Elected to Lower House eight times)

Deputy chairman of the parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of hydrogen. Also plays an active role in the LDP’s hydrogen promotion group.

Makihara Hideki

(Elected to Lower House five times)

Chairman of the parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of carbon recycling technologies. Former State Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry.

Kudo Shozo

(Elected to Lower House four times)

Head of the secretariat of the parliamentarians’ league on the promotion of hydrogen. One of the founding members of the original group launched in 2013.  

 

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