A green future for the maritime industry – a governmental perspective

Innlegg ved statssekretær Dilek Ayhan på SeaJapan, Tokyo, 9.april 2014

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Ohayou gozaimasu [Åhaiåå gådsaimas], good morning.

First of all I would like to thank the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for organising this interesting seminar. I am impressed by what I have heard and seen here at SeaJapan so far, and I wish you a successful event.

Allow me to express my gratitude for the invitation:

It is an honour and a great pleasure for me to visit this beautiful country and exciting capital.

And let me admit what a great pleasure it is to visit Tokyo during the cherry blossoming season – or the sakura.  


I am proud that not only the Sakura, but also the bilateral relations between Norway and Japan are blossoming.

  • First, Japan is one of the largest importers of Norwegian fish, mainly mackerel and salmon. And thanks to Japan, Norwegian salmon is one of the most popular sushi dishes in the world.
  • Second, The Norwegian Government Pension Fund, more commonly known as the “oil fund” has invested substantially in Japan. The development in this country, the world’s third largest economy, is therefore important to Norway - and we are following the “Abenomics” initiatives with great interest.
  • Thirdly, Norway has recently elected their second female prime minister. We experience a growing Japanese interest in Norwegian policies for gender equality.

We hope that the “Womenomics” efforts from the Abe-administration will bear fruits, and we will be more than happy to share our experiences.

  • And, Japan is an important partner for Norway in the area of research and technology. In 2003 our countries signed an important agreement which encompasses areas spanning from marine research to space activities.
  • And finally, but most important, I would like to say that the tragic events which took place three years ago, with the triple disaster of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, touched and mobilized everyone in Norway.

If there is one good thing to say about this tragedy is that it clearly showed the place Japan has in the hearts of the Norwegian population. Norwegian authorities, businesses, organizations, artists and other people contributed with donations or through other means after the disaster.

In two days, I will visit Sendai in the Tohoku-region, and meet the brave people there that are confronted with challenges in their daily lives.

All these testaments of the Japanese-Norwegian relations - together with a stable development in the trade between our countries – remind us how close we are, though we are located in different parts of the world.

Having strong relations with Japan is also something the new Norwegian government highly values.

It is especially two key messages which reoccur when we describe the status in Norway to new audiences:

  • First, Norway is a small country with an open economy – this means that the situation in the world economy strongly affects us. 

The world economy will have a bumpy year – but we expect growth.

We are also very pleased with the reports of recovery in Japan.

This is good news for Norwegian industries.


  • Second, another feature of the Norwegian economy is that we have a cost challenge.

Norwegian salaries are on average 55 percent higher than in the EU– and even higher if we compare them globally.

A fundamental goal of our industrial policy is to have businesses that can compete in global markets.  By strengthening our ability to innovate we strengthen our competitiveness.

Or as our Prime Minister Erna Solberg puts it: “Knowledge is the new oil”. 


To strengthen competiveness, our policies rest on four pillars:

  • Knowledge
  • Growth enhancing tax cuts
  • A more effective public sector
  • And, an improved infrastructure.

I am sure this will make our businesses better prepared for the future- though it is difficult to make predictions – especially about the future.


One bet about the future that is quite safe however – is that we will need greener growth and greener technologies.

Environmental concerns have been with us for a long time now.

Also, their close relationship with industry and business is well known:

  • On the one hand, industry, and especially manufacturing, has been challenged as polluters in many different instances.
  • On the other hand, the business opportunities in green innovation have given rise to new industries, and changed existing industries.

In Norway, we have seen notable new industries appear:

  • Our long and windy coastline has been a fertile ground for the development of offshore wind power facilities.  
  • Our traditional strength in materials sciences gave rise to a solar power industry – an industry that now appears to be partly on the move again.
  • And in our traditional industries, such as shipping and the maritime industries, a greener approach has strengthened the competitive position of Norwegian companies.


Today’s seminar is important for three reasons:

First and foremost, it is an excellent opportunity to present Japanese and international expertise and innovative maritime solutions.

The second reason is that Japanese-Norwegian cooperation may continue to expand into new areas with a green growth potential in the years to come.

Finally, the third reason why this seminar is important is that it promotes personal contact and expansion of networks.


The shipping industry has, some say a well-deserved, reputation for being conservative. Analysis shows that many environmental initiatives – that are profitable – are not being implemented.

But at the same time I believe that our traditions and know-how are crucial to develop the maritime sector in a sustainable manner.

Not only are Japan and Norway two such traditional, but innovative maritime nations – we also have strong maritime bonds.

The maritime cooperation between Japan and Norway is important and has long traditions. We signed the first maritime agreement back in 1957.

But our maritime cooperation dates back even further to the 1850s and 60s, when Norwegian ships started to sail to Japan.

Three years ago, during NorShipping in 2011 in Oslo, our maritime collaboration was further strengthened as Japan and Norway signed a Memorandum on cooperation in the field of maritime technology and industry.

The memorandum opens up for closer cooperation on important issues like: LNG, offshore wind, the Arctic, ship recycling, and promotion of environmentally friendly maritime technology.

The commercial maritime relations between our two countries has  continued to develop. Over the last years, more Norwegian maritime related companies have established themselves in Japan, and likewise Japanese companies have established themselves in Norway.

This manifests that the maritime clusters of Japan and Norway are more complementary than competitive.

Japan’s high-tech industry combined with Norway’s advanced maritime sector is a good combination for success.

This was seen in January when Kawasaki Heavy Industries received an order for a vessel from the Norwegian operator Island Offshore.

This is it first time a Japanese shipyard has won an order for a supply vessel in the tough Northern European market.


I hope we will see close Japanese-Norwegian co-operation related to the KHI project, to the mutual benefit of our industries.!

Another interesting development is what happens in the Arctic- an area of interest for both Norway and Japan.

Due to the melting of the sea ice sailing distance between our countries are substantially shorter – as the Northern Sea Route is free of ice in longer periods.

Let me mention our constructive cooperation in the International Maritime Organization that includes work on binding regulations for the Arctic - the Polar code. We are looking forward to continue and deepen our fruitful cooperation on these issues.

With regard to green shipping, it is also important to turn the attention to the work in the IMO.

Development of green technologies and environmental regulations go hand in hand.

One result of such international regulations is LNG as fuel for ships.

  • As a maritime fuel, LNG eliminates SOx- and particle emissions.
  • It reduces NOx-emissions by 90 percent; and
  • as an added bonus, CO2-emissions are cut up to 20 percent.

Today, there are more than 45 LNG- fuelled vessels operating in Norwegian water. By 2015, Norway will have a fleet of more than 90 LNG-fuelled vessels.

It tells us that the industry considers that LNG has operational cost-advantages and is a sustainable and green fuel option.

It explains why Norway and Japan consider LNG-fuelling to be a good future-oriented alternative.

The Norwegian example also tells us that an active policy also matters. Requirements in public bids for ferry transportation services and mechanisms such as the Nox-fund have been important contributors in making Norway a maritime LNG-nation.

Another area where we have seen regulations foster innovation is ballast water treatment. This represents major challenge for the maritime industry.

Within this particular business area, both the Norwegian companies Optimarin and OceanSaver are operating in Japan with local maritime partners.

Both LNG and ballast water treatment technologies are innovations that promotes the environment – but they also help modernizing existing industries, and thereby promote growth.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to today’s seminar:  Today we have already heard some very interesting reflections from Mr. Morishige, and later representatives from the maritime industries of Japan and Norway will share their thoughts.

And that is what this seminar is about - the sharing of knowledge for mutual benefit.

Never has there been a time when so much of the world’s attention is directed at the rapidly increasing potential and need for green technologies:

Up until now, the debate about climate change has centred mostly on costs.

However, there is a growing consensus that the demand for a more sustainable economy also entails substantial business opportunities.

That is perhaps the core message of the OECD Green Growth Strategy. Investing in green business would more than pay for itself:

  • In the form of millions of new jobs,
  • through the development of new industries,
  • health benefits from cleaner air,
  • energy efficiency savings,
  • and last but not least: A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

There is plenty at stake.

There are high ambitions.

The winners of the green revolution will surely be winners of the 21st century global economy.

And from a government’s perspective policies and regulations which enhance growth and innovation are perhaps our most important tools in fostering these winners of the green revolution in the maritime sector.


Ladies and gentlemen!

I started out by saying it is difficult to make predictions about the future. Nonetheless I have decided to venture into this risky field and give a prediction myself.

And that prediction is: The future holds a lot of cooperation in the field of green technology for the global maritime cluster – for mutual benefit.

And on that note, I wish you a pleasant and productive seminar.

Domo arigato gozaimashita [dååmåå arigatåå gåzai masjta]

Thank you.