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Japanese PM Kishida visits Ottawa, asks for Canada’s help on clean energy transition

Kishida talked liquefied natural gas and nuclear energy Thursday
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is looking to Canada to help his country wean itself off fossil fuels from places such as Russia.

Kishida is in Ottawa Thursday for his first visit as Japan’s head of government, as part of a tour of other G7 countries.

Japan holds the G7 presidency this year and is set to host meetings with the leaders of some of the world’s richest countries. The group includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.

Tokyo plans to use the presidency to co-ordinate with other states on economic management and punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Kishida arrived late Wednesday in Ottawa from London, and is expected to head to Washington, D.C. later Thursday.

The visit comes during a time of geopolitical alignment between Japan and Canada, both of which have recently singled out China as a threat to stability in the region.

Kishida’s arrival marks the first visit to Canada by an Asian head of government since Ottawa launched its Indo-Pacific strategy last November, which called for closer ties with countries that can counterbalance Beijing’s influence.

A new Japanese defence strategy unveiled last month included working with allies to ward off threats from North Korea and China, and made it legal for Japan to conduct military strikes against enemy bases. Tokyo is boosting its military spending by 26 per cent in just one year.

Meanwhile, a regional trade deal launched in 2018 has helped both countries expand trade each other’s markets. Under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada has increased its exports of pork and oil to Japan, while it has brought in more imports of Japanese machinery and auto parts.

“Trade is booming between our two countries,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a Thursday lunch he hosted for Kishida and corporate executives.

“We share a vision for peace and prosperity on both sides of the Pacific.”

Kishida told guests that liquefied natural gas will play a “crucial role” in Japan’s energy transition, and that Canada’s looming LNG export terminal is one example of multiple ways Ottawa can help.

“On science, technology and innovation, [digital transformation] and startups, I am very keen to further strengthen co-operation between industry, government and academia in both countries,” Kishida told participants in Japanese, through an English interpreter.

“Nuclear power will also play a key role, and we look forward to working together to make the nuclear supply chain more resilient.”

The Canadian government will lead a trade delegation to Japan this fall, Trudeau said, and Japanese companies interested in mining and electric-vehicle battery components aim to visit Canada in the spring.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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