The Challenge of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Edited by Stefano Pogutz, Angeloantonio Russo and Paolo Migliavacca
Chapter 13: Japan’s Fuel Cell Technology: Policy and Progress
13. Japan’s fuel cell technology: policy and progress Yuko Harayama, Philippe Larrue and Kuniaki Honda INTRODUCTION Japan is known for its long-standing and extensive history of government interest in picking up technological paths and working hand-in-hand with the industry toward technological innovation. Although this practice allegedly contributed to significant success for several high-tech industries in the past, it is now widely considered as less relevant to the current economic context: as Japan became a front-runner in science and technology, the ‘catch-up’ strategy had to be replaced by a search for emerging technologies, where an interdisciplinary approach is crucial and Mode-2 style thinking (Gibbons et al., 1994) is a driving force.1 Since the time when science-based industries gained importance, the academic community has inevitably been involved. Innovation resulted from complex interactions among actors forming a value network. In this context, ever more systemic and cross-boundary approaches are needed. Because of the recent and drastic environmental changes, the Japanese government is facing new challenges to coordinate and promote innovations. This study analyses the changing institutional framework in Japan that supports the development and commercialization of strategic technologies, with a particular focus on fuel cell technology. This innovation, challenging and promising as it is, generates high expectations in terms of economic activity, environmental benefits and energy security both in the policy arena and the private sector. Moreover, the Japanese government has been investigating this technology for a long time and in this process resorted to different policies, which act as a lens through...
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