Bridges: How would you define the economic and diplomatic exchange between both countries today?
Kawamura: Japan and Norway are both maritime nations and partners sharing fundamental values including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Both countries have also been cultivating friendly relationship for a long time and have cooperated with each other in fields such as maritime, fisheries, Arctic issues, science and technology, sustainable development, climate change and the marine environment.
Japan and Norway have also strengthened cooperation, not only in their bilateral relationship, but also in the multilateral arena such as the United Nations, the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the Arctic Council, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) and elsewhere.
What are some recent milestones in collaboration between both countries?
Japan-Norway Cooperation in the international arena also extended to our fight against COVID-19. In 2020, Japan and Norway – together with the EU and some EU member countries – undertook the initiative to establish ACT Accelerator in order to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
In the science and technology field, both countries had an epoch-making event last year. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in collaboration with the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA), successfully launched a sounding rocket from the Andøya Space Center’s Svalbard Rocket Range, aimed at observation of the Arctic Circle, on 4 November 2021.
What are the most significant areas of cooperation between the two countries?
Recently, climate and energy are two of the most critical agendas in the context of bilateral cooperation between Japan and Norway and in international fora.
Japan has set a goal of Japanese society becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. On the basis of this, and in addition to the “Green Growth Strategy” which was formulated in December 2020, Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio announced in January this year that the Government of Japan plans to formulate a Clean Energy Strategy that will demonstrate concrete roadmaps of this field.
Given this background, an increasing number of cooperative projects between Japanese and Norwegian companies have been arising especially in the last few years. Such cooperation includes the development of offshore wind, hydrogen and ammonia as fuel, batteries for ships, and capture and transport of CO2.
The Governments of Japan and Norway also have been working closely in establishing new international regulations in the International Maritime Organization such as those for reducing GHG emissions from international shipping.
What are your goals and ambitions as the Ambassador of Japan to Norway in the next few years?
As the Ambassador of Japan to Norway, I wish to support the strengthening of cooperation with the Norwegian public and private sectors, which have as high ambitions as their Japanese counterparts for the green transition, and further promote cooperation between Japanese and Norwegian companies for the development of advanced technology in this field. I see great potential in their further cooperation and development and will continue to provide necessary support.
On top of that, as the current spread of COVID-19 has relented so that we can again meet up without fear of infection, I will further strengthen the friendship between Japan and Norway by actively holding events for the promotion of people-to-people exchanges and Japanese culture for everyone here in Norway.