Trade and Investment

Webinar on market conditions and opportunities in energy and innovation

On November 26, the Japan-Canada Chambers Council (JCCC) discussed different ways of bolstering trade and investment activities between the two countries. The JCCC is a joint initiative between the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ) and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Annamarie Sasagawa

Covering energy, innovation and the benefits of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agree­ment for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the event featured insightful comments from a handful of speakers represent­ing organizations that are involved in a variety of industries and are working to strengthen Canada–Japan ties. The webinar was moderated by Annamarie Sasagawa, vice chair of the CCCJ.


Tatsuo Yasunaga

Tatsuo Yasunaga, chairman of the JCCC, opened the event by sharing the topics and goals of the 2021 meeting. “Participants will discuss the traditional five priority areas of cooperation, while placing a special focus on energy and innovation for countries around the world beginning to implement carbon neutrality, and the specific measures used to foster the use of new energy sources, such as hydrogen and ammonia.”


Dan Woznow

Senior Vice President External Affairs Dan Woznow of AltaGas Ltd. was invited to speak about the operations of his company. Its head office is in Alberta, but it operates throughout North America and maintains a strong link to Japan. The company has two lines of business.“One is our utility — or city gas as it’s known in Japan. We run that business in Alaska and Michigan; and in the Washington, DC, and Maryland areas under the name Washington Gas. We supply natural gas to the White House. 

“Our other business is our midstream, natural gas business and that’s really focused on the northwestern part of Canada. We have two export facilities that we’re utilizing now, one in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and one in Ferndale, Washington. That’s where I am going to focus our discussions on today. 

“Although it’s a Washington state-based facility, we move a lot of products from Canada — butane in particular. Both facilities are deep-water ports so, unlike some of our compe­ti­tors, we’re able to move barge vessels. These vessels are over 230 metres in length, and they carry about 45,000 tonnes of propane at a time. We move about 60 to 65 of these vessels into Asia every year, so it’s a great opportunity for Canada. We supply about 11 per cent of the total propane imported by Japan right now, within two years of starting up,” Woznow said. 


Referring to charts displayed at the meeting, Woznow also spoke about the future of these exports, and the changes that will come once people start to move away from fossil fuels and look to new transitional fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia, in which Canada is already investing. “Both Canada and Japan have committed to being net zero by 2050, which is a real challenge. How can we do that and maintain energy security and affordability for our populations?”

He also addressed the possibilities of working with ammonia, together with carbon capture and underground storage, and how Japan–Canada collaboration is important. “We’ve demonstrated our ability to provide energy to Japan What is important to understand is that these opportunities need capital investment. We’re talking billions of dollars for some of these facilities to get developed. That is where our Asian partners and Japan can help. If we can get those long-term purchasing commitments, we can build on that substantial investment.”


Hiroki Haba

Mitsubishi Corporation Executive Officer, General Manager of Next Generation Fuels and Petroleum Business Headquarters, Petrochemical Solutions Group (Concurrently) Hiroki Haba also spoke about the opportunities that ammonia and hydrogen present, and how Mitsubishi Corporation plans to work on them. 

“We will invest approximately two trillion [yen] by 2030 in areas including renewable energy based on rare metals, natural gas and next-generation energy areas, such as fuel ammonia and hydrogen. We set up our fuel ammonia and hydrogen commercialization office two and a half years ago and have been pursuing this opportunity. We have been involved in activities relating to the promotion of using ammonia as a fuel. [This we have done] through the CFAA [Clean Fuel Ammonia Association], and the Fuel Ammonia Council set up in October last year, in both of which Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy is taking part,” he explained. “In regard to the CFAA, we are the director and also chairman of the project committee.”


The Accelerator Centre is a non-profit private business accelerator and consulting company, based in Waterloo, Ontario. The organization can provide start-ups in Canada and overseas with the insight and support to grow their businesses. This provides opportunities for these companies to grow in a sustainable way.

“We don’t take equity from the start-ups that we work with on a fee-for-service model, so these companies are able to keep full ownership of their company,” explained Accelerator Centre Director of Marketing and Communications Tabatha Laverty.

Tabatha Laverty

The organization offers some key programs to assist start-ups looking to grow their business. “The first is our start-up visa program. It is a federally funded program that provides an accelerated pathway to permanent residency for successful founders who have founded their business outside of Canada — ideal for companies that are looking to enter, expand or achieve profitability in North America,” said Laverty. 

The second of the selection of programs on offer is the Global Hubs program. “This is where we work with communities around the world. We’re interested in helping them build their own innovation ecosystems. We firmly believe that if people want to replicate what is happening here at the Accelerator Centre, they don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We have a well-established program, and we really want to share it with the world, so we do offer licensing, consulting and partnership opportu­nities through the Global Hubs program. 

“We walk municipal organizations, corporates, academic institutions and other types of organizations through the process of setting up an incubator or an accelerator and creating their own innovation ecosystems,” Laverty explained, adding that partners have the option of working either on an ad hoc basis or on one- or three-year plans. 

“Canada and Japan are steadfast allies and partners with strong bonds, common values and vibrant people-to-people ties”


Takeshi Saito

Takeshi Saito, director at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Toronto Office, spoke about how the body is helping to promote innovation and the expansion of start-up operations involving Japan and Canada. 

“The Toronto office will open a Global Acceleration Hub in June this year for Japanese start-ups considering expanding overseas, and Japanese companies that desire to cooperate with Canadian start-ups,” he explained. According to Saito, there are many talented artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and AI-related companies in the ecosystem of Canada’s start-ups. He said that, while it was common for Canadian start-ups to begin with a view to expanding in the North American market — including the US — these small to medium-sized enterprises should also consider the opportunities that lie in Japan and with Japanese companies. 


Yasuhisa Kawamura

Yasuhisa Kawamura, the Japanese Ambassador to Canada,  delivered a keynote speech and spoke about the treasured bilateral relationship. “The economic growth rate, as well as the unemployment rate of our two countries, have shown positive trends. While we are not yet [emerging] from the pandemic, Canada and Japan are steadfast allies and partners with strong bonds, common values and vibrant people-to-people ties. We work closely together in international forums, such as the G7, G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the World Trade Organization [WTO]. Our extensive trade and investment ties are underpinned by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.” 

Ian G. McKay

Ian G. McKay, the Canadian Ambassador to Japan, echoed Kawamura’s sentiments, noting: “Canada and Japan are committed to building upon the success of the CPTPP by leading the efforts on WTO reform and promoting free, fair and sustainable trade. And on climate change, Canada and Japan are committed to achieving 2050 net zero goals and to mitigating climate-related risks in the Indo-Pacific region. This framework is really a terrific step forward in solidifying the significance of our relationship.” 

Steve Dechka

Steve Dechka, co-chair of the JCCC, added to these sentiments with some closing remarks. “I remain encouraged by what I saw today and heard today. And I remain passionate about the potential for new candidate business relationships in the future.” 

Perrin Beatty

Perrin Beatty, president and chief executive officer of the Ottawa-based Canadian Chamber of Commerce added, “We’ll be seeking new ways to engage with Canadian chambers abroad, and look forward to engaging closely in the context of the Canada–Japan relationship to see how we can best support the bilateral trade relationship.”