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  5. Overseeing Initiatives to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Japan’s Roadmap to “Beyond-Zero” Carbon

Green Innovations

Overseeing Initiatives to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

The agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sources include nitrous oxide from soil, as well as methane from the digestive processes of livestock and from rice cultivation. Japan is a member of the Global Research Alliance, which seeks to lower agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Japan co-chairs the Paddy Rice Research Group with Uruguay and Senegal as a world leader in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in paddy farming. One noteworthy example of Japan’s innovative environmental innovation strategy in agriculture, forestry and fisheries is its use of biochars to store carbon in soils. This is by plowing biomass into farmland to overcome the challenges of biochar decomposition in soil. Japan is employing renewable energy in agricultural, mountain, and fishing villages, and seeks to build a village energy management system to cut agriculture and forestry costs and revitalize local economies (see Figure 1).

It is additionally important to develop and use forests to absorb emissions, which will become excessive by 2030 owing to trees aging. So, R&D for forests as absorption vehicles and initiatives to use marine resources are also essential.

Individual producers deploy technologies in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. It is therefore crucial to roll out measures to encourage such deployments, encourage greater productivity, and provide economic incentives.

(Figure 1) From presentation materials of Third Working Group of National Agriculture and Food Research Organization at Green Innovation Strategy Meeting

Corporate Initiatives

Agricultural Machinery

Kubota Corporation will combine agricultural and advanced technologies to lower environmental impact and materialize smart agriculture. The development thrust is to leverage data in precision agriculture, save labor through automation, and make farm work less arduous. In January 2020, the company revealed a prototype unmanned tractor (see Figure 2). This setup will offer fully autonomous driving, determine farm work based on artificial intelligence-based weather and growth data, be fully electric and emissions, and employ a four-wheel crawler to handle diverse tasks.

(Figure 2) From presentation materials of Third Working Group at Green Innovation Strategy Meeting


Forests absorb carbon dioxide, so wood effectively helps lower emissions. Takenaka Corporation undertakes what it terms Forest Ground Cycle business initiatives to attain sustainable virtuous cycles for forest resources and local communities. These initiatives encompass planting, growing, harvesting, and properly using trees. The company has developed fire-resistant composite materials that make it possible to erect high-rise wooden structures that fire-resistant. Takenaka looks to complete a 12-story wooden high-rise commercial building in Ginza, Tokyo, in 2022, and has designed a 20-story concept tower that it plans to open in 2025 (see Figure 3).

(Figure 3) From Takenaka presentation materials for Third Working Group at Green Innovation Strategy Meeting

Initiatives to Accelerate Innovations

Global Zero Emission Research Center

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) established the center on January 29, 2020. Its Director is Dr. YOSHINO Akira, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019. The center conducts joint studies with research institutes in Europe and the United States in hydrogen, carbon recycling, and energy devices. It also assesses global project information collected through several entities. These include Research and Development 20 for Clean Energy Technologies. The center seeks to become a disclosure platform for companies and other organizations (Figure 4: On the left is AIST Tokyo Waterfront, which houses the center, and on the right is AIST Tsukuba West, a basic research unit whose upgrade is scheduled for completion in March 2021).

(Figure 4) From AIST presentation materials for Third Working Group at Green Innovation Strategy Meeting

Tokyo Zero-Emission Innovation Bay

This council seeks to make the Tokyo Bay area the world’s first zero-emissions innovation zone. It showcases the activities of companies, universities, national research institutes, and other organizations in the area. Other activities include planning and promoting research and development and demonstration projects and exchanging information and fostering collaboration.

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

This entity was established to innovate sustainable development policy instruments and conduct strategic policy and practical research to help formulate environmental strategies. The institute IGES undertakes a range of strategic research, provides information to stakeholders, and holds international conferences. It has domestically and internationally publicized the concept of a circulating and ecological economy in keeping with the Fifth Basic Environment Plan, which the Cabinet of Japan approved in April 2018.

(Figure 5) From Institute for Global Environmental Strategies presentation materials for Third Working Group at Green Innovation Strategy Meeting

International Contributions in Energy and Environment Fields

Japan endeavors to play an international role in combating global warming in three key ways. The first is to hold international energy and environmental conferences. The second is to popularize low-carbon technologies overseas through private sector leadership. The third is to help developing nations switch to clean energy.

Holding international conferences

Japan held three climate change-related events on October 9, 2019. These were the TCFD Summit, the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, and Research and Development 20 for Clean Energy Technologies. Also that day, the Prime Minister’s Office hosted the Green Innovation Summit (see Figure 6). October this year will see Japan follow up with more international energy and environment gatherings. These are Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, Research and Development 20 for Clean Energy Technologies, the TCFD Summit, the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting, and the International Conference on Carbon Recycling.

(Figure 6) International conference representatives at Green Innovation Summit

Popularizing low-carbon technologies overseas

At the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Japan Pavilion garnered high regard for its exhibits of hydrogen, high-efficiency turbine, wind power, and other technologies (see Figure 7).

(Figure 7) Japan Pavilion exhibits at 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference

Helping developing nations

On November 27, 2019, the first Japan-proposed Government-Private Forum on Cleaner Energy Future Initiative for ASEAN convened in Manila. Key goals of this initiative are to foster energy-related businesses by encouraging them to disseminate low-carbon technologies, offer financial support, and construct systems.