Progression made in Japan

Jan Fransen, Green Award’s Deputy Managing Director, revisited Japan in January 2004. The main purpose of this visit was to strenghten the contacts established during a previous visit in 2003 and to visit some new contacts. The first result is that we have a strong indication that the first port in Japan will join the Green Award scheme within a year. At this stage we are not in the position to disclose the category of vessels for which an incentive might be made available, but we will inform our stakeholders as soon as possible. 

During the visit in Japan, an update on the Green Award developments was discussed with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, both with the officials from Maritime Safety and the Ports and Harbours departments. Constructive dialogue took place with both departments and we can report that the Green Award is recognised as a good tool to enhance quality in shipping. However, it will take time to gain momentum in Japan.

Existing port contacts have been indeed strengthened and new ports were visited. Some of the meetings continued for a long period of time and we discussed the Green Award philosophy in depth. Indications show that some ports are considering participation. As mentioned above, we have strong indications that the first Japanese port will join within a year, although at this stage we are not in the position to disclose the category of vessels for which an incentive might be made available.

The Green Award scheme was presented in detail to several Japanese Shipping Companiesl. The number of participants and good discussions struck us. Besides explaining the scheme, we also learnt from the discussions and were able to incorporate useful comments. A common thread throughout the discussions was attention for the human element in the scheme (during the execution of audits) is welcomed. Many of the Japanese managers recognise this element as crucial for good performance. However, we still we experienced the so-called “Chicken and Egg story”, whereby some owners/managers are close to participation but at the same time, are waiting for a Japanese port to join.

Furthermore, meetings took place with the Japanese Shipping Exchange and the Ship and Ocean Foundation - both were supportive of the concept. Informal and very friendly meetings took also place with Japanese academic supporters.

We realise to a growing extent the importance of Japanese participation in the Green Award Scheme. Japan, as a front-runner, will create a spin off in the Asia-Pacific region and will create the momentum to motivate charterers to choose quality tonnage. This will result in motivating shipowners to improve their Quality, Safety and Environmental performance on a continual basis. We are convinced that Japanese participation will create global acceptance of the independent and non-profit Green Award scheme and will accelerate the enhancement of environmental standards in shipping. We would like to thank Prof. Masato Shinohara for his much appreciated help.

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