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OPINION: Japan's historic climate leadership appears in doubt

As the world heads towards crucial global climate talks in Paris in December, and Premier Abe and President Obama met in Washington D.C., Japan's role in climate leadership is on my mind. In December 1997 in Kyoto, I worked closely with Japanese colleagues to negotiate the first internationally binding agreement to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

Japan provided more than a venue. Under the leadership of premier Ryutaro Hashimoto, Japan's negotiators were tireless in their pursuit of agreement -- one we finally secured after a marathon all-night negotiating session in Kyoto.

Japan's support did not end with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. In the years to come, Japan's diplomats worked behind the scenes to encourage partners around the world to ratify the agreement they had helped forge, ensuring that it entered into force in 2005.

Nearly 20 years on, Japanese innovation is no less in demand. This fact is an underlying rationale for the Japanese government's Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF) aimed at addressing climate change through innovation. A number of Japan's leading companies such as Sony, Toyota and Toshiba are part of leadership fora such as the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and contributing to debates on the role of business in delivering solutions to climate change.

Japan Inc. recognizes that as the emerging economies of Asia and beyond develop their industrial base, the technologies they adopt must be modern, efficient and impose as small a carbon-footprint as possible. The business opportunity is clear. As an early-mover Japan has an advantage that its companies can, and should, leverage.

For the complete article, please see Kyodo News.