Economic growth in developing countries is a responsibility of developed countries. Japan also carries out international cooperation through ODA and other programs. For countries of the world to achieve prosperity is a good thing in itself, but there are concerns that as economic growth continues, they will compete with each other over limited water, food, and energy resources. Not being a resource-rich country, Japan depends on other countries for these. There are fears that a world energy shortage would become a crisis for Japan.
That is all the more reason why, as electricity becomes more widely available, we need to have developing countries learn about energy efficiency technologies for using energy more effectively. People tend to think of our international and technical cooperation programs first of all as a matter of passing on Japan's advanced technologies, but the real significance is that solving problems occurring in developing countries will be to Japan's benefit. (Mr. Uchida)
There are basically three kinds of ODA, loan assistance, grant aid, and technical cooperation. KITA's role is to provide technical training as part of technical cooperation, on commission from JICA.
There are many kinds of technical training, of which FINALGATE cooperates in training in the areas of energy efficiency and new energy. Trainees visit facilities that have introduced an Energy Saving Agent, where they are provided with the knowledge, know-how, and experience that can be gained through seeing actual operations.
The first time for FINALGATE to take part was in country-specific energy saving training hosted by JICA in 2010, for Costa Rica government agencies, university people, and top executives of small to mid-sized enterprises. Since then they have cooperated two or three times a year. (Dr. Ueno)
Developing countries are also aware that building better things more cheaply is necessary for their economic growth, so there is keen interest in resource and energy conservation. Realizing actual energy savings, however, involves the cost of equipment and technology introduction. There are many countries faced with the dilemma of understanding the necessity but being unable to put it into practice for lack of funds.
For that very reason we believe the FINALGATE approach and technology are useful in this training. Many of the trainees were receptive to the approach of using ingenuity in place of money, even as they were surprised by it.
Another reason it was so well received was that the measures could be implemented as soon as they returned home, without installing equipment. (Dr. Ueno)
Since the places where tours are given are mostly large commercial facilities, there are trainees who simply assume that since there are no such splendid facilities back home, the tours are not relevant to their own situation. While they are taught that energy saving is an "approach" that can be carried over to office buildings, factories, and logistics centers, it might help their understanding if the tours were broadened to a greater variety of places. (Dr. Ueno)
I would like to thank them for cooperating with this government activity despite the limited budget for training related cost. The training is a win both for developing countries and for JICA. Since JICA carries out activities in support of overseas expansion that are a win for companies, we hope it turns out to be a win for FINALGATE. (Mr. Uchida)
Whether famous or not, trainees learn much from the enthusiasm and sincerity of corporations, in addition to technology. We have been providing training programs together for around five years now. As energy saving is the important and endless issue for mankind, we look forward to working with FINALGATE for the long term. (Dr. Ueno)
Interviewed / Photographed: September 2014