Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on 18 June updated the "Green Growth Strategy Through Achieving Carbon Neutrality in 2050" in collaboration with related ministries and agencies. The strategy leads to sustainable growth and innovation by incorporating all possible and necessary policies into the effort. It will further raise the feasibility of achieving a carbon neutral society by 2050.

METI said realising carbon neutrality by 2050 will require an enormous effort. “We need to significantly accelerate structural changes in the energy and industry sectors, and bold investment to make innovation.” “The Green Growth Strategy” will produce and direct all available policies, including budget, taxation, finance, regulatory reforms/standardisation, and international cooperation, towards that goal. “This will support the forward-looking challenges of companies, such as making bold investments to make innovation, and realise transformation in the industrial structure and social economy.

Action such as changes in corporate R&D policies and management policies has already begun. “We updated ‘The Green Growth Strategy’ further in order to accelerate this trend.” In order to trigger a spiral of innovation, the detailed strategy focuses on the following two points: 1) updating policy measures and goals to be achieved in each area; and 2) presenting benefits to people’s lives, in addition to decarbonisation effects. The division in charge is the Carbon Neutral Action Plan Promotion Office, Environmental Policy Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau.

The new strategy, in addition to the benefits of decarbonisation, looks at measures and responses benefiting people’s lives. It is supported by an Action Plan for the Growth Strategy, approved at a cabinet meeting held the same day.

The new Green Growth Strategy restated action plans established earlier for 14 key areas and industries, as follows:

  • Offshore wind power, solar power, geothermal power
  • Hydrogen, fuel ammonia
  • Next-generation thermal energy
  • Nuclear power
  • Automobiles and storage batteries
  • Semiconductors and information technology
  • Marine vessels
  • Physical distribution, flows of people, and civil engineering infrastructure
  • Foods, agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • Aircraft
  • Carbon recycling, materials
  • Housing, structures, and next-generation electric power management
  • Resource recycling
  • Lifestyles

The following targets were given for the nuclear industry:

  • Steady promotion of fast-reactor development through international cooperation (a newly-added item this time).
  • Demonstration of technology for small modular reactors (SMRs) by 2030 through international cooperation.
  • Establishment by 2030 of elemental technology involved in the production of hydrogen using high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs).
  • Steady promotion of nuclear fusion R&D through international cooperation, including the ITER Project.

While wording was removed from the original strategy calling for maximising nuclear utilisation, new reference was added in the latest strategy on the promotion of nuclear-related R&D and personnel training with an eye to the future. In addition, advanced cancer treatment through manufacturing radiopharmaceutical medicines using research reactors was cited as a way to benefit people’s lives.

Before releasing the new strategy, at the end of 2020, METI set up a working group comprising representatives of private companies, universities and research institutes as well as young volunteers working in administrative offices. The group met five times.

The Green Growth Strategy included a proposal from that group on behalf of people who will be active in various spheres in 2050, as follows: “Activities to realise carbon neutrality by 2050 should not be thought of as representing short-term costs, but instead, a Gross Domestic Sustainability (GDS) index should be established as a measure of such activities as assets for the future.”

METI Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told a press conference on 22 June that, “Based on a recognition that ‘2050 is not the far future, but the near future,’ METI will definitely implement the Green Growth Strategy in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies.”