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Amid Tension, Japan, China Talk About Energy-Saving

Japan shared lessons May 29 with China on how to become more energy efficient and protect its environment from rapid industrialization, amid strained ties between the countries in part over oil and gas resources.

Some 550 Chinese officials and specialists headed by Commerce Minister Bo Xilai joined about 300 Japanese participants on the first day of the three-day forum, discussing the steel, automobile, cement, fuel cell and other sectors. "We would like to strengthen cooperation with Japan, a front-runner in energy-conservation and environmental technology," Bo said.

"It was not easy to bring up the plan to hold this forum with China and to put it on track when bilateral talks over the East China Sea gas fields were at a deadlock," Japan's Commerce Minister Toshihiro Nikai said.

The Chinese delegates will travel outside Tokyo on May 30 and May 31 to learn how major Japanese firms, including automakers and power generators, promote energy efficiency and environmental conservation, officials said.

China is the second-largest energy consumer after the U.S. on the back of its very sharp economic growth over the past decade and more, according to International Energy Agency figures. Japan, in comparison, is ranked fifth despite its position as the second-largest economy in the world.

China is expected to account for 15% of the world's energy consumption by 2030. Compared with Japan, China uses nine times as much energy to produce one unit of GDP, according to a Japanese trade ministry survey.

Japan, which imports nearly all of its oil, has improved energy efficiency by about 30% since the 1970s when it was hit hard by the oil shocks in the Middle East.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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