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Japan's 2050 goal: A carbon-neutral society

16-09-2021

In October 2020, Japan's Prime Minister, Suga Yoshihide, declared that by 2050 the country would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and to realise a carbon-neutral, decarbonised society. In December, the Cabinet adopted the green growth strategy, an industrial policy aimed at generating a virtuous cycle of economic growth and environmental protection, together with the business community. A €15.4 billion fund is to be created, to promote ecological businesses and innovation to achieve ...

In October 2020, Japan's Prime Minister, Suga Yoshihide, declared that by 2050 the country would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and to realise a carbon-neutral, decarbonised society. In December, the Cabinet adopted the green growth strategy, an industrial policy aimed at generating a virtuous cycle of economic growth and environmental protection, together with the business community. A €15.4 billion fund is to be created, to promote ecological businesses and innovation to achieve the goal, offering tax credit of up to 10 %. A carbon tax is being considered. The strategy recognises that it would be unrealistic to cover all electricity demand with renewables only. So, by 2050 Japan's energy mix will comprise renewable energy (50-60 %), hydrogen and ammonia (10 %), and energy generated by nuclear and thermal power plants (30-40 %). The strategy acknowledges that promoting electrification in all sectors will boost electricity demand by 30-50 %. To decarbonise electricity, in addition to using renewables and nuclear, Japan wants to further develop its hydrogen technology (in which it is a front-runner) in the direction of CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology). It also wants to focus on tapping into the potential of ammonia. Meanwhile, prospects for nuclear are unclear, as the sector has been deeply impacted by the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Doubts have been raised about the technology necessary for achieving coal substitution and CCUS. Japanese business, while already engaged in innovation projects to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, has expressed reservations about some elements of the strategy and the proposed carbon tax. Japan is actively involved in international cooperation on green technologies and could be an ideal partner to the EU, which, through its European Green Deal (EGD), also aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. During their May 2021 summit, the EU and Japan adopted the declaration ‘Towards a Green Alliance to protect our environment, stop climate change and achieve green growth’.

South Korea's pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

28-06-2021

As part of its plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea has launched its own Green New Deal. Announced in July 2020, this initiative will invest €54.3 billion mostly for enabling a shift to green infrastructure, low-carbon and decentralised energy, for spurring innovation in green industry and for creating 659 000 jobs. The plan will also support the commercial development of technology for large-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS). In October 2020, South Korea's ...

As part of its plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea has launched its own Green New Deal. Announced in July 2020, this initiative will invest €54.3 billion mostly for enabling a shift to green infrastructure, low-carbon and decentralised energy, for spurring innovation in green industry and for creating 659 000 jobs. The plan will also support the commercial development of technology for large-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS). In October 2020, South Korea's President, Moon Jae-in, declared that the country would aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. He vowed to end dependence on coal and replace it with renewables as part of the Green New Deal. In December 2020, the government adopted a carbon-neutral strategy to chart a path towards a sustainable and green society. This strategy will support innovative climate technologies that will help South Korea achieve carbon neutrality and set a global example of success in accomplishing this goal. In December 2020, Seoul updated its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The target remains unchanged: by 2030, South Korea is to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 24.4 % compared to 2017 levels. Aware of criticism about the country's weak ambition regarding emissions reduction, in May 2021 Moon Jae-in declared that a more ambitious target would be announced at the COP26 conference on climate change in Glasgow in November. Despite the relatively low levels of funding that South Korea has allocated to developing countries, it is taking ambitious action to demonstrate international leadership on climate change: in May 2021, it hosted the P4G summit focused on public–private partnerships, which yielded the Seoul Declaration. Climate change provisions in the EU–South Korea framework agreement highlight largely unused potential for cooperation; so far, these provisions have only been used for channelling EU support to Seoul's emissions trading scheme, for running a three-year EU-Korea climate action project and for holding the meetings of the joint working group on energy, environment and climate change.

Prospects for EU-Asia connectivity: The 'European way to connectivity'

06-04-2021

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established five strategic partnerships – including with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. In September 2018, the EU adopted a joint communication on 'Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks ...

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established five strategic partnerships – including with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. In September 2018, the EU adopted a joint communication on 'Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU strategy'. The strategy proposes that the EU engage with its Asian partners through a sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based approach to connectivity, exploiting existing and planned EU networks. It acknowledges the presence of a significant investment gap in connectivity and recognises the need to mobilise and strengthen cooperation with private investors, national and international institutions, and multilateral development banks. Analysts welcomed the strategy as the EU response to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative has been raising concerns in the EU and in several participating countries, some of which are worried about possible 'debt traps'. Echoing these concerns, the European Parliament has warned that the 17+1 format of cooperation between China and 17 central and eastern European countries could undermine the EU's common position towards Beijing. In January 2021, MEPs called for the creation of a global EU connectivity strategy as an extension of the current EU-Asia connectivity strategy. In September 2019, the EU and Japan launched the EU-Japan Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure. In December 2020, the EU and ASEAN issued a joint ministerial statement on connectivity. Financing Europe-Asia connectivity is a key challenge in the years to come, together with the challenges highlighted by the coronavirus crisis. This is a revised and updated edition of a briefing from October 2018.

The Quad: An emerging multilateral security framework of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region

18-03-2021

The Indo-Pacific region houses the largest share of global GDP, the world's busiest trade routes, largest population and most powerful militaries. After having successfully worked side by side in coordinating the 2004 tsunami relief, in 2007 Australia, India, Japan and the US (the Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) held meetings with each other to discuss security-related issues, and their navies held a military exercise. Although the grouping ended its activities prematurely in 2008 ...

The Indo-Pacific region houses the largest share of global GDP, the world's busiest trade routes, largest population and most powerful militaries. After having successfully worked side by side in coordinating the 2004 tsunami relief, in 2007 Australia, India, Japan and the US (the Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) held meetings with each other to discuss security-related issues, and their navies held a military exercise. Although the grouping ended its activities prematurely in 2008, China's growing assertiveness in the region prompted it to remain active in bilateral and trilateral cooperation on security issues. Meetings among senior officials resumed in November 2017 in Manila. In November 2020, the Quad navies held a major military exercise. The first Quad summit took place in March 2021. The grouping has emphasised that its goal is to maintain the liberal rules-based international order, which China seeks to undermine through a revisionist challenge of the status quo. Its efforts are not focused on creating institutions or military alliances, but rather, on generating gradual convergence of cooperation on multiple issues, including Covid-19, climate change, critical and emerging technologies, counterterrorism, cybersecurity and disaster recovery. Establishing further cooperation with other like-minded countries in the region and co-existing with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are among the Quad's future challenges. The EU is not a traditional security player in the Indo-Pacific; however, as the region is particularly relevant to its trade, it has a strong interest in avoiding disruption of the sea lanes. The Indo-Pacific could be an area of cooperation with the new US administration. France, Germany and the Netherlands have published strategies or guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region, which has stepped up expectations about the forthcoming strategy for the region by the EU as a whole.

Japan's Parliament and other political institutions

15-12-2020

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can play a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet ...

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can play a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet. The Chief Cabinet Secretary also plays a relevant role. Suga Yoshihide, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, is the country's Prime Minister, succeeding Abe Shinzō, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, in 2020. The Supreme Court is at the top of the judicial system. It is not a constitutional court, despite handling appeals arising from actual disputes. The appointment of its Justices is reviewed by the people at the first general election of the Lower House following their appointment. Japan is a unitary state divided into 47 prefectures. A Metropolitan Government administers the capital, Tokyo. Japan's 1947 Constitution recognises 'local self-government.' Local governments carry out many of the national policies and programmes. They have limited autonomy, also because of their dependence on financial resources from the central government. Japan has a bicameral parliament − the Diet. Although the two chambers share legislative powers, the Lower House (House of Representatives) prevails in the legislative process and is empowered to adopt the final decision on the budget and on the approval of international treaties. Changes in the regional geopolitical environment and in the country's demographic structure have prompted debates on issues such as the revision of the 'pacifist' Article 9 of the Constitution and the seat distribution among electoral constituencies. This is an update of a briefing published in June 2020.

Japan's ageing society

15-12-2020

Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority. The country is also home to a record 80 000 centenarians. By 2036, people aged 65 and over will represent a third of the population. Since 2011, the Japanese population has also been shrinking: it is a rare case of large country whose overall population is becoming smaller in prosperous and peaceful times. Japan's population is expected to drop from ...

Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority. The country is also home to a record 80 000 centenarians. By 2036, people aged 65 and over will represent a third of the population. Since 2011, the Japanese population has also been shrinking: it is a rare case of large country whose overall population is becoming smaller in prosperous and peaceful times. Japan's population is expected to drop from 127 million in 2015 to 88 million by 2065. Japan's demographic crisis is the consequence of the combination of two elements: a high life expectancy and a low fertility rate. In 2018, Japan had the second highest life expectancy in the world. Meanwhile, since the 1970s the country has failed to raise its fertility rate to the replacement level. The working culture, a deterioration of employment opportunities for young men and the traditional gender division of labour are possible explanations for this trend. The consequences of the country's aging and shrinking population include economic crisis, budgetary challenges, pressure on job markets and depopulation of rural areas. The silver economy is meanwhile flourishing and Japan is at the forefront of robot development to face a declining labour force and to take care of its elderly. The government's efforts to address the demographic crisis have yet to succeed however, and immigration has been limited. Tokyo is engaged in global health cooperation and succeeded in incorporating the concept of human security in the sustainable development goals. It has also been active in international cooperation on ageing, with a focus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The EU's own ageing society is not far behind Japan. It could benefit from learning from Japan's experience, and cooperating on all aspects relating to demographic challenges, including on 'agetech': technology making comfortable longevity accessible to all.

EU-India: Cooperation on climate

17-11-2020

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi ...

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi is a major promoter of the International Solar Alliance and, alongside other partners, the founder of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The EU and India have assumed a leading role in fighting climate change and have been increasingly cooperating with each other in this field, at both public- and private-sector levels. They have agreed partnerships on sectoral issues such as clean energy, water and urban development. The EU is supporting several Indian projects on climate action, sustainability and clean energy. At their 15th summit, held in July 2020, the EU and India placed a strong focus on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to engage constructively in its first global stocktaking in 2023.

EU-India: Trade prospects

12-10-2020

The EU-India Summit held in July 2020 agreed to establish a regular high-level dialogue at ministerial level on bilateral trade and investment relations. In this way, the EU and India expressed a clear political will to work together to overcome issues that have hampered their trade relations in recent years and impeded advances towards a bilateral trade and investment agreement – where negotiations have been stalled since 2013 – and achievement of the potential of economic relations between the ...

The EU-India Summit held in July 2020 agreed to establish a regular high-level dialogue at ministerial level on bilateral trade and investment relations. In this way, the EU and India expressed a clear political will to work together to overcome issues that have hampered their trade relations in recent years and impeded advances towards a bilateral trade and investment agreement – where negotiations have been stalled since 2013 – and achievement of the potential of economic relations between the world's two biggest democracies.

EU-India: Cooperation on digitalisation

12-10-2020

A 'human-centric digitalisation to develop inclusive economies and societies' is the main concept behind the digital transformation of both the EU and India. During their July 2020 summit, the two agreed to promote global digitalisation standards characterised by 'safe and ethical deployment'. Their flagship initiatives – the EU digital single market and 'Digital India' – make them natural partners in the promotion of these global standards. Yet, if their ICT cooperation is to make sound progress ...

A 'human-centric digitalisation to develop inclusive economies and societies' is the main concept behind the digital transformation of both the EU and India. During their July 2020 summit, the two agreed to promote global digitalisation standards characterised by 'safe and ethical deployment'. Their flagship initiatives – the EU digital single market and 'Digital India' – make them natural partners in the promotion of these global standards. Yet, if their ICT cooperation is to make sound progress, some of Delhi's protectionist policies need further consideration.

Korean peninsula: State of play - Further uncertainty follows period of hope

20-07-2020

North Korea and South Korea have been on different paths since World War II. The North has remained isolated and poor, its regime inspired by Soviet structures, with a centrally planned economy. The South, meanwhile, after alternating periods of autocratic and democratic rule, made a clear choice at the end of the 1980s in favour of democracy and a market economy, a choice that has led the country to success in several sectors. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the military conflict ...

North Korea and South Korea have been on different paths since World War II. The North has remained isolated and poor, its regime inspired by Soviet structures, with a centrally planned economy. The South, meanwhile, after alternating periods of autocratic and democratic rule, made a clear choice at the end of the 1980s in favour of democracy and a market economy, a choice that has led the country to success in several sectors. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the military conflict of 1950-1953 ended with an armistice that was never followed by a peace treaty. There are 28 500 US (United States) soldiers stationed in South Korea, which signed a Mutual Defence Treaty with Washington in 1953. There have been frequent tensions over the past 70 years, and North Korea has become a de facto nuclear power since the 2000s, prompting international sanctions. Early in 2018 a detente raised hopes of peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but the summits have led neither to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, nor to the easing of sanctions against the North. Pyongyang's frustration provoked new tensions in the region in June 2020, when the North, in a symbolic move, destroyed the liaison office in the border area, the de facto embassy of the two Koreas. But Kim's options seem limited at present, and there is little chance of progress until after the US presidential elections. Meanwhile, Moon Jae-in has invested much political capital in the Korean peace process, and is willing to make further moves before the end of his mandate in 2022. The EU has traditionally maintained a policy of critical engagement towards North Korea, upholding the international non-proliferation regime and supporting a lasting reduction in tensions on the peninsula. The EU and South Korea are strategic partners. During the 30 June 2020 EU–South Korea summit, the EU reaffirmed its support for Seoul's efforts to engage with the North to achieve peace and prosperity on the peninsula.

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