31 Mar Australia-Japan News | March 2022
This page collates links to interesting articles that provide a picture of what is happening in Japan and in the Australia-Japan relationship, with brief summaries of their content.
While we don’t claim this list to be comprehensive, and some of the articles may be behind paywalls, we hope it will evolve into a valuable resource that assists members and subscribers in keeping up to date and provides a record of key developments… make sure to check back regularly to see the latest.
* indicates the article is behind a paywall.
Japanese energy firms brace for possible supply cut from Russia – Osaka gas considers bringing forward procurement from Australia
Japanese gas and energy companies are keeping close attention on new developments of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and are looking to alternative natural gas suppliers in preparation for potential supply disruptions from Russia in response to Western sanctions on the country. Hiroshima Gas Co. is considering purchasing LNG from Malaysia and others, while Osaka Gas Co. is planning on bringing forward gas procurement from the United States or Australia. Most of Japan’s LNG imports from Russia come from the Sakhalin 2 oil and gas project, a joint venture involving Mitsui and Mitsubishi. Hiroshima Gas procures about half of its annual LNG purchases from the Sakhalin 2 project. The Japan Gas Association said it will create a structure that will allow companies to share their supplies in case of an LNG supply crunch. Read more >
Sekisui House Australia announced on 24 March it has acquired a large development site – a Norwest masterplanned estate in Sydney’s North West from developer Aqualand. The acquisition is part of Sekisui House’s multi-million dollar strategy to grow its footprint in the Sydney metropolitan region over the next 5 years. It follows Sekisui House’s recent agreement with Stockland to design and construct over 330 homes also in North West Sydney. The company aims to grow its portfolio in NSW, in the North and South West as well as various other metro and coastal Sydney locations. Read more >
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday 21 March it was abandoning talks with Japan aimed at signing a formal World War II peace treaty. Japan and Russia did not sign a peace treaty after the war because of a lingering dispute over four islands off Hokkaido. In the statement issued by the Russian Ministry, it said this was “due to the impossibility of discussing the core document on bilateral relations with a country that has taken an openly hostile position and is striving to cause harm to the interest or our country.” Japan acted with other Group of Seven (G7) nations on sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it has imposed a series of sanctions on Russian financial institutions and chip exports. Read more >
A two-day survey conducted by the Kyodo News through Sunday 20 March showed 85.8% of respondents support Japan’s sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, suggesting the public supports Prime Minister Kishida’s firm stance against Russia. The survey also showed 91.2% of respondents backed the Japanese government’s decision to accept refugees from Ukraine. The approval rating for the Kishida Cabinet rose 3.5 percentage points from the February poll to 60.1%, according to the survey. Read more >
Joint bid for a Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit for a Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release Area in Australia
JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation (ENEOS group) and deepC Store Limited submitted a joint bid for a Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit for a Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release Area in offshore Australia. The Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release Area located in Commonwealth waters offshore Australia is considered a suitable site for CO₂ storage, which is planned to be captured from industrial sources in Australia, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. JX has been collaborating with deepC Store to perform a feasibility study for capturing and transporting liquefied CO₂ to an offshore floating CCS hub (CStore1 project). The Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release Area fits with the concept of CStore1, which could potentially become a CO₂ injection site for CStore1. Read more >
A powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture late Wednesday 16 March, leaving at least four people dead and more than 225 people injured. The quake recorded an upper 6 (many people find it impossible to remain standing or move without crawling) on Japan’s seismic intensity scale of 7 in parts of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The earthquake caused power outages in north-eastern and eastern Japan, affecting more than 2.2 million households, including about 700,000 in Tokyo. The Defence Ministry dispatched the Self-Defense Forces to provide water service in areas where water supply has been disrupted. Japan’s nuclear energy authority said it had detected no abnormalities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, however, it said the cooling systems for spent fuel pools at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant’s No.1 and No.3 reactors had temporarily stopped but later restored. Read more >
Joint Statement On The Supply Chain Resilience Initiative By Australian, Indian And Japanese Trade Ministers
Trade Ministers of Japan, Australia and India virtually met on Tuesday 15 March. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of cooperation among the three countries in light of supply chain disruptions in the Indo-Pacific region and agreed to further develop the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative to promote strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the Indo-Pacific region. The Ministers also agreed to identify key sectors, particularly in manufacturing and services, where trilateral cooperation could enhance the resilience of supply chains, and agreed to promote further collaboration between Austrade, Invest India and JETRO in these sectors. Read more >
On 11 March, Komatsu announced its official opening of an Innovation Hub in Wacol, Queensland. The Innovation Hub, built as part of its new Wacol Distribution Centre, provides a range of interactive exhibits that demonstrates the latest technologies in mining, quarrying and construction equipment and solutions, showcasing the company’s focus on innovation and technology. The Innovation Hub is also a celebration of Komatsu’s century of innovation, dating back to when the company was founded in 1921. Komatsu celebrated the company’s 100th anniversary in May 2021. Read more >
Japan is seeking alternative ways to procure LNG to make up possible future shortfalls due to reduced shipments from Russia. While Japanese utilities normally have long-term LNG contracts, there have been talks underway with Australian suppliers. Japan is the world’s second largest LNG buyer behind China, with about 8.2% coming from Russia (39.1% from Australia, the largest supplier to Japan*), and Russia was the fourth-largest supplier to Japan in 2020 according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of Japan.
EnergyQuest’s March report said that “Japanese buyers may seek additional Australian cargoes to replace Russian cargoes although Australia is not well placed to quickly fill any gaps due to the looming cessation of shipments from Darwin LNG, the decline of the North West Shelf and the problems with Prelude.” However, analysts said higher contracts prices and increasing demand from Japan and other countries could prompt Australian energy companies to consider expanding projects previously shelved. Read more* >
On Friday 11 March, Japan marked the 11th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which devastated its north-eastern Tohoku region in 2011. Some 38,000 people remain displaced more than a decade after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunamis caused widespread damage and triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. The death toll totalled 15,900 as of the beginning of this month and the search for the 2,523 missing continues to this day. Evacuation orders in Fukushima are scheduled to be lifted in coming months in parts of “difficult-to-return” zones that saw high radiation levels. It is estimated the total costs associated with the Fukushima disaster, including damages paid to victims, at 22 trillion yen (US$190 billion), but the final figure could end up far higher. Read more >
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan said Wednesday it will raise the average price at which it sells imported wheat to the country’s milling companies by 17.3% from April, hitting a 14-year high. Poor harvests in North America last summer had led to a price surge in the global market, and the crisis in Ukraine added to the problem, according to the Ministry. Russia and Ukraine together account for 30% of international wheat exports. Japan’s domestic demand for wheat amounts to some 5.6 million tons annually, and it imports 90% of it from overseas, mainly from the U.S., Canada and Australia (Japan does not directly import wheat from Russia or Ukraine), and the Japanese government takes charge of the country’s wheat import before selling to domestic companies in order to secure stable procurement. Read more >
March 8 marks International Women’s Day, designed to raise awareness of women’s achievements and challenges around the world, however various reports show Japan has a long way to go to achieve gender equality. At the average salary level, women in Japan earn 26% less than their male counterparts in the country and remain a minority not only in management roles, but also in high-paying and specialized professions like medical doctors and lawyers, even though the wage gap between men and women has been narrowing over the years. Read more* >
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Toho Gas and Hokuriku Electric Power to acquire a 25% stake in Formosa I International Investment from Australia’s Macquarie’s Green Investment Group
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Toho Gas and Hokuriku Electric Power Company have agreed to acquire a 25% stake in Formosa I International Investment from Australia’s Macquarie’s Green Investment Group to enter Taiwan’s offshore wind power business. This is their first investment into overseas offshore wind power generation, which they hope to help expand their renewable energy business further. Formosa I International Investment fully owns an operator of Taiwan’s first utility-scale offshore wind power farm, Formosa I Wind Power. Read more >
Perth-based Microsoft solutions and services partner Velrada announced Thursday that it has agreed to take an acquisition offer from ASG Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese consulting group Nomura Research Institute. ASG will acquire 100 per cent of the shares in Velrada, who has leveraged its Microsoft partnership to facilitate the digital transformation of some of Australia’s biggest organisations including BHP and Rio Tinto. Through this acquisition, ASG aims to increase its capacity for delivery of Microsoft technology and accelerate its business expansion in Australia and overseas using Velrada’s extensive networks. Read more >
Leaders of Quad nations – Japan, Australia, the United States and India – met virtually on Thursday 3 March and discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Japanese Prime Minister Kishida strongly condemned Russia’s aggression and stated that his intention to provide $100 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people and his willingness to accept displaced persons had recently been conveyed to Ukrainian President Zelensky. Kishida said the four leaders had agreed that any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, such as this time, must not be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific and they had reaffirmed their strong commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Quad leaders agreed to meet in person in Tokyo in the coming months. Read more >
Prime Minister Kishida said on Thursday Japan will raise the daily cap on entrants from overseas to 7,000 from the current 5,000 from 14 March. With some 150,000 overseas students waiting to enter Japan, Kishida announced that the government will create a new scheme that will allow them to come to the country using vacant seats on weekday flights when business travel demand is not high and give them around 1,000 additional spots on top of the 7,000 daily cap. On 1 March, Japan reopened its borders to non-resident, non-tourist foreign nationals for the first time in three months. Read more >
Japan’s Finance Ministry data released on Wednesday showed capital spending by Japanese companies in the October-December period rose 4.3% from a year earlier, increasing for the third consecutive quarter. Capital spending increased both on year and from the previous quarter as economic activities fully resumed in Japan during the reporting period. However, the upward trends are unlikely to continue due to a resurgence of COVID-19 and higher material costs stemming from the Ukraine crisis, economists forecast. Read more >
Australian cyberwarfare personnel participated in multinational cyberwar drill hosted by Japan’s Self-Defense Force*
Australian cyberwarfare personnel were among participants from a number of countries in a multinational drill for dealing with cyberattacks hosted by Japan’s Ground Self Defence Force on Tuesday 1 March. Cyberwarfare personnel from the armed forces of the United States, Australia, France, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as 10 teams from the Ground, Maritime and Air SDF and the National Defense Academy, participated in the cyberattack simulation game in order to enhance cooperation among multiple countries. Read more* >