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Technology and innovation for the future of maritime in focus at Sea Japan

Technology and innovation for the future of maritime in focus at Sea Japan
Researching and developing future technologies for shipping and maritime were in focus from leading officials from Japan and Norway at the opening of Sea Japan 2016.

“We are suffering from a demand – supply gap….however, because we are now in this kind of situation it is time to innovate for the future,” Japan’s Parliamentary Vice Minister for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MITL) said at the opening ceremony.

The Vice Minster for MITL noted that the 12th edition of Sea Japan was the largest ever with representation from 28 coutries and regions, and that it was an important opportunity to show Japan's leading technology to the world. Sea Japan is organised by UBM and held bi-annually in Tokyo.

The message about innovating now for the future was a similar one from Dilek Ayhan, Vice Minister of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industries and Fisheries, who noted that these were indeed challenging times and too many ships had been built, and the industry was also impacted by lower economic growth and geo-political uncertainty.

But looking ahead she commented: “There are a bundle of opportunities. Better times ahead call for preparation now.

“The role technology has to achieve is stable growth for the maritime sector.” Ayhan urged that future challenges must be addressed by innovation and cooperation.

Speaking about the role of innovation Japan’s Minister for Ocean Technology said the country should take a leadership role in promoting research & development and establishing environmental technologies to address global environmental problems.

She added that Japan would a leader in addressing environmental issues in the Arctic region through technology and innovation.

Japan is also promoting new ocean industries as such as power generation from methane hydrate and from sea floor vents which it is aiming to commercialise by the second half of 2016.

Nippon Foundation executive director Mitsuyuki Unno touched on how disruptive technologies could change the industry. Unno noted that much as Google is developing self-driving cars it could enter the shipbuilding industry and build unmanned vessels. “Shipbuilding is no longer the preserve of just the shipbuilding industry,” he said.

He added that things “we thought were unthinkable” are becoming a reality these days.