Around 150 people attended last week’s TradeWinds Shipowners Forum Tokyo, the fourth such event in Japan since 2018 and a noteworthy occasion for the world’s third-largest shipowning nation with 1.81m gross tonnes.

During the half-day forum, TradeWinds’ editor-in-chief Julian Bray spoke in depth with Mitsui OSK Lines chief executive Takeshi Hashimoto on the strategies employed by MOL to navigate and renew the company’s diverse fleet in pursuit of the net-zero 2050 target amid challenging market conditions.

The need for collaboration took centre stage in the discussions as well.

Hoegh Autoliners chief executive Andreas Enger emphasised the critical need for cooperation among shipowners, ship design companies and shipyards to facilitate the energy transition in shipping.

Enger highlighted the company’s commitment to sustainability with 12 pure car/truck carrier newbuildings on order, designed to operate on different fuels.

Finance also featured prominently, with Jigo Hayashi, joint general manager of ship finance at Tokyo Century Corp, stressing the importance of green financing to attract risk-taking capital.

He acknowledged the challenges in providing a comprehensive solution due to legal structures, particularly in mortgages.

“Risk money must come from somewhere and it is a team sport,” said Hayashi, emphasising that mitigating risks requires collective efforts.

Balancing priorities

Meanwhile, Tatsuro Watanabe, MOL chief environment sustainability officer, underscored the significance of shipowners not solely concentrating on new fuels but also optimising operational efficiency.

On the engine front, Seiji Shindo of Japan Engine Corp (J-ENG) shared insights into the potential readiness of a hydrogen engine by 2027.

J-ENG is also testing a new ammonia fuel engine, with Japan’s first large-scale ammonia-fuelled ship, an ammonia gas carrier contracted by NYK at Nihon Shipyard, scheduled for delivery in 2026.

Benjamin Gibson, director of Hecla Emissions Management, delivered a presentation on the extension of the European Union Emissions Trading System to shipping from January 2024. He outlined the challenges that non-EU companies may encounter in complying with the “cap and trade” scheme.

The next TradeWinds Shipowners Forum in Tokyo will be held on 14 October 2024.