National / Politics

G-7 transport ministers agree to bolster railway, airline sector cooperation

Kyodo

Transport ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies agreed Sunday to strengthen cooperation in the railway and airline sectors as they wrapped up their three-day meeting in the resort town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.

Prior to the conclusion of the gathering, ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union adopted a declaration Saturday pledging to reinforce international cooperation in creating safety regulations to promote self-driving cars.

The conference was the last of the ministerial meetings related to May’s G-7 leaders’ Ise-Shima summit in Mie Prefecture.

“We will cooperate with each other and exercise leadership to support the early commercialization of automated and connected vehicle technologies,” the declaration adopted at the Saturday meeting said.

“We obtained a common understanding to make efforts in the same direction to create regulation frameworks that (will) tend to vary depending on region,” transport minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference after the meeting.

The declaration noted that the introduction of self-driving cars is expected to have such benefits as reducing traffic accidents, improving efficiency on such things as logistics and alleviating burdens on drivers.

To foster development of self-driving cars by automakers, the ministers pledged to intensify efforts to develop globally harmonized regulations and to seek to remove regulatory barriers to self-driving technologies at the domestic and international levels.

“We concur on the necessity of providing guidance to manufactures and adopting other measures to ensure safe real world testing and development of automated and connected vehicles,” the declaration said.

On the sidelines of the ministerial talks, Ishii held bilateral meetings with his Canadian, British and German counterparts.

In the talks with Chris Grayling, Britain’s transport secretary, Ishii expressed a desire to deepen bilateral cooperation in the railway business, a Japanese official said.

Graying told Ishii that the British vote in June to leave the European Union will not adversely affect Japanese firms, according to the official.

While electronics and machinery maker Hitachi Ltd. has increased its presence in Britain with robust sales in the rail sector, it has voiced concern over the impact of Brexit on its business.

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