• Kyodo


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to pledge that Japan will play a leading role in putting Asia on a path to zero carbon emissions as he attends a U.N. climate summit in Britain on Tuesday, while seeking to network with countries sharing concerns over China’s assertiveness on the sidelines of the international conference.

The visit to Glasgow, Scotland, for the meeting called COP26 marks Kishida’s first overseas trip since becoming prime minister on Oct. 4. But he will be staying there for less than 12 hours as his trip comes on the heels of his ruling party’s election win.

“I want to firmly convey to the world Japan’s strong resolve to exercise leadership toward zero emissions in Asia as a whole,” Kishida told reporters before his departure.

The 64-year-old former foreign minister also said he will share the steps Japan plans to take toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

As U.S. President Joe Biden is also attending the leaders’ session of the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties, Kishida may have a chance to have a face-to-face engagement with him for the first time since taking office.

Kishida said he plans to hold talks with leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the host of the conference, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Japan views both countries as key partners in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” a region that is facing China’s growing clout.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida leaves Haneda Airport in Tokyo for Glasgow, Scotland, early Tuesday. | KYODO
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida leaves Haneda Airport in Tokyo for Glasgow, Scotland, early Tuesday. | KYODO

The two-week climate talks began on Sunday to advance actions to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, with the leaders’ session running two days through Tuesday.

Because of Sunday’s general election in Japan, Kishida virtually attended the Group of 20 summit that was held in Rome, just ahead of COP26. But he seems to have decided that he should not miss out on both G20 and COP26, where a flurry of diplomatic activities takes place.

One of the main aims of COP26 is to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C from pre-industrial levels within reach, which scientists say will only be possible through the “most stringent” efforts to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the run-up to COP26, Japan has come up with a new goal of reducing emissions by 46% by fiscal 2030 compared with fiscal 2013 levels.

The new target, which goes beyond the previous commitment of a 26% cut, was pledged in April by then Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who stepped down partly due to public discontent with his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and was succeeded by Kishida.

With Japan also vowing “strenuous efforts” toward cutting its emissions by 50%, environmental experts have said the country’s standing on climate issues, which has often been poorly rated, have largely improved.

But critics have been disturbed by what they view as Japan’s insufficient efforts to phase out coal domestically. Japan is the fifth-largest carbon dioxide emitter after China, the United States, India and Russia.

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