Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA), the new chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, visited Japan on April 7–15, 2007, for a program focusing on climate change and new energy technologies. The US Congress was preparing new legislation on energy issues and climate change throughout the spring of 2007, and Representative Boucher’s visit centered around a series of discussions with a broad range of political leaders, government officials, business executives, and NGO experts about Japan’s experiences adapting to climate change regulations and the Kyoto Protocol, promising new energy technologies being implemented in Japan, and the potential for US-Japan cooperation on energy and global warming.
During the course of his visit, he met with 15 Diet members from all of the major parties, took part in a roundtable with eight of the Diet’s leading figures in the field of environmental issues, and exchanged views with House of Councillors Environment Committee Chairman Masamitsu Oishi. He also spoke with top government officials in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office and the foreign, economic, and environment ministries—including Representative Shinako Tsuchiya, senior vice minister for the environment—and he visited with senior corporate executives in the utility and auto sectors to discuss the feasibility of new environmentally-friendly technologies and methods that are being developed and tested in Japan. These meetings were complemented by a series of exchanges with nongovernmental think tank experts and foreign policy analysts, as well as a roundtable on IT issues at the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren).
On April 11, JCIE, in cooperation with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organized a public seminar on “The US Debate on Response to Global Warming.” As keynote speaker, Representative Boucher discussed the recent dramatic shift in US thinking on global warming, and he was joined by two commentators, one from the non-governmental sector and the other serving in government—Ms. Junko Edahiro, Co-Representative of Japan for Sustainability (JFS) and Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka, Director General for Global Issues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nearly 150 Diet members, government officials, corporate representatives, NGO leaders, scholars, and journalists took part in the seminar, which was covered widely in the Japanese press.