Takeshi Hashimoto: I have a very strong and eager interest in the LNG industry in Türkiye

Yeşim Yeliz Egeli


2 months prior the 100th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relationships between Turky and Japan, we conducted an interview with the President and CEO of MOL, Takeshi Hashimoto and MOL Türkiye General Manager Satoshi Katada, discussing Türkiye-Japan based maritime collaborations in İstanbul, future of fuels and propulsion systems as well as the cultural relationships of two contries

Mr. Hashimoto welcome to İstanbul. Is this your first time in Türkiye?

No actually I’ve been here so many times, maybe more than 10 times.

Could you please introduce yourself for our readers? How has your career journey evolved in general?

I joined MOL just as I graduated from university. So it’s been quite some years. I joined in 1982 and I’ve been working here for more than 40 years. I studied Classic Chinese Literature in university and expected to do works related to China, especially, because MOL is a global shipping company and particularly strong in China. But I ended up not working in the Chinese business very much. Instead, I spend majority of my career for the finance part and LNG business. So, my involvement with Türkiye was almost always through the LNG related businesses. Türkiye started LNG imports in 1990s and since then I visited İstanbul and Ankara so many times, trying to assist the Turkish companies to start their LNG imports by providing Türkiye LNG transportation and FSRU business.

What do you think about the emergence of fully autonomous vessels in the maritime industry? And what are your company’s plans for innovative technlogical solutions related to robotics?

The shipping industry is already quite automated. We are operating tankers, bulk carriers and huge vessels, which are more than 300 meters long and weigh more than 100.000 metric tons, with less than 30, sometimes 20 people. And that’s a quite small number of people managing the vessel, if you think about the size. Nowadays, the more we can rely on the advanced technology, using the satellite system to get the weather or safety information, the more the people on board do not have to use their judgement on various day to day decisions. Since, all information can be provided via the satellite system. All over the world, we have 800 vessels, moving around carefully watched 24 hours by our onshore control center in Tokyo only with two or three people. It’s all very different from the 20th or the19th century. Back then, in terms of people working on boards, it was a much bigger number. And they do not have to rely on their own judgements to have to deal with, for example, very rough weathers like storms, typhoons or hurricanes. We can provide and upgrade the information via the satellite system. Nowadays, seafarers can even speak to their families through the chatting system by connecting to wifi with their smart phones on board, again via the satellite system. The shipping business or being a seafarer was considered to be a very tough and a quite isolating job. To some extend, it’s still true but at least, communication wise today, they can talk to their families everyday and see what’s happening back home. So, it’s a very big change and we really want to add to it. I hope that in a few years the seafarers, and their families and the children can communicate with each other via virtual reality.

The sector is testing ways to adopt virtual reality into vessel operations. How do you think your company can contribute to this?

Virtual reality in vessel operations… Actually, we are using the virtual reality for the sefarers’ training. It is becoming very handy to send many seafarers to our training center. We can produce so many different types of realities to train the seafarers on how to respond to, for example, rough or changing weather or a compeletly different circumstances. In the past, the training of seafarers was mainly on-the-job training. However, today we can use this quite good and very advanced facility to train them. And, of course, it required some investment and we invested quite a lot of money. But, by contribution, if you mean a contribution to the industry, it’s a bit difficult. Because, what’s actually happening today is that the shipping companies are competing with each other. So big companies like us tend to establish very advanced facilities to train the seafarers much quicker than others with better qualifications. Though, one of the good things of competing with each other is that, in Japan not so many people want to become a seafarer. So, we really need to recruit a really big number of non-Japanese seafarers, mainly Filipinos and some East Europeans.

What about Turkish seafarers?

Mr. Katada: We actually have so many seafarers here.

Mr. Hashimoto: We already established our own training center in Tokyo. And we recruit people from Philippines, India, and Croatia and send them to our training centers. Here, they do our visual trainings, so they can have the experience to catch up with the most advanced technologies.

You have established an e-commerce site during pandemic. And you mentioned that you want to expand this site and sell products from Türkiye, India and Bangladesh. Wouldn’t you be interested in turning it into a global site? Also, can you guarantee that using used products in ships is 100 percent safe? If so, how?

We started the e-commerce site because I wanted to sell ship repair things from this area. But, of course, it’s kind of a market place, so we can sell anything. And I want to support the Turkish maritime industry. We operate 800 hundered ships. Those ships will be demolished. So, we should support a demolished ship business. I wanted to do this small thing and I wanted to start. So, I started it. And, of course, I want to support the relationship between Türkiye and Japan.

You launched your pure car carrier line back in 1965, but technology changed drastically ever since. We have been introduced to electrical cars for a while now. And as much as they are better for our environment, they also introduced new dangers to the shipping sector. The shipping of lithium ion batteries used in electrical cars, for instance, poses new dangers, such as possibilities of thermal runaway. How do you stay on top of this?

Yeah, even non-electrical vehicles, every car has a battery. And from time to time it becomes dangerous and hazardous. We had so many unfortunate experiences in the past with fires on our operations of the car carriers and also the domestic ferry services. So, I agree that we must be very careful, nowadays, with the huge volumes of electrical vehicles being exported, especially from China to Europe and to US. And we are observing quite a rapid expand in the volumes too. So, we need to establish a highly robust safety standard on how to ensure the ocean going transportation of the electrical vehicles, today. The most important thing is that, we need to establish a co-working framework with our customers; the Chinese, German and Japenese carmakers. They also have an important agenda to establish a safety management of the electrical vehicles. And we also need to protect our vessel from fires and in case of a fire; we have to be quick to control the situation. So, a different safety standard should be established and we are discussing this issue quite seriously with main carmakers like Toyota, Volkswagen and Daimler. And almost everybody has the same concern, how to establish a safety standard especially in rough seas. So, I admit that we are still in the process but the issue is already recognised by major companies and we already started working on it. Though, because of the concerns that are arised from the global economy and the big challenges of the climate change issue, we must follow the global trend to use electrical vehicles. And we are working quite hard, together, with other shipping companies, ship builders, carmakers and other parties that are realted to the transportaiton business to make it happen.

Mol provides the steel products such as, coil pipes and sheet metals in Asian Waters. But you are not rather active in many regions. When can we see MOL in more countries, in this field?

Historically, Japanese steel makers are quite important to customers. Therefore, we focus to satisfy their requirements and their requirements are to export iron and steel from Japan to several countries, though mainly to Asian countries and to US. It was what we developed in the past, but now iron and steel industry is changing and there are so many big companies outside of Japan, increasing their share. And Japanese iron steel makers like JFE or Nippon Steel tend to minimize the production volume in Japan and produce more value added, high end products, which means that the total volume is decreasing.

We are also rich in volume.

Yes, of course. India, Türkiye, China and many other countries are increasing their total steel production. We recognise it, therefore we gradually shift our portfolio to global market rather than just the Japanese export market. Our service is also gradually changing our portfolio. To be honest, Türkiye and European market is a bit far from the Far East. And there are already strong competitors mainly European ship owners, Greeks and Scandinavians and traditional shipping companies that have already established their own market. So, I must admit that it is not so easy, however we recognise that the global economy is changing and that we really want to diversify our business portfolio.

Do you think that MOL invites enough bulk vessels to Türkiye? What are your projects to be more active in Türkiye’s ports?

In general, MOL’s strategy is that we want to focus on the high end of the shipping business, more value added and more technology oriented. And LNG is one of the things. I personally worked for LNG projects for so many years. Since becoming the Persident and CEO of MOL two and a half years ago, I have to take care of all the business portfolio of MOL. But, still, I strongly believe that our competitiveness in the global market is directed at the high end of the shipping services, which means LNG or VLCC or some offshore product and new products like ammonia or hydrogen or methanol. We will continue to provide the traditional bulk carrier or small-scale tanker services because they are required by our customers. However, our main focus should be on the more value added, the high-end rich markets, in which we can be the most competitive against our competitors. I have a very strong and eager interest in the LNG industry in Türkiye. We are quite successful to provide the FSRU to BOTAŞ in the past now the second one is under the operation. And also, through our joint venture, which is Karadeniz power generator utilizing their own power, we are providing the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) business of LNG. Together with Karadeniz, we are working on LNG related businesses, not only here in Türkiye but in many other countries like Africa or South America.

We were wondering what do you think about Africa.

In the past, LNG was dominated by very advanced economies such as Asia, Japan, Korea, several European countries and parts of US. However, today, with the climate change issue accelerating so does the speed of energy transition. Quite many countries are still using huge volumes of coal for their power productions and also domestic purposes. Switching from coal to gas can reduce the CO2 emission dramatically, as gas have half the volume of the CO2 emission compared to coal. So, it’s a very good energy for the transition period. We expect new economies to enter to the LNG market like China, India, other Asian economies, African or South American countries and to quickly catch up with the global trend to use natural gas. While the G7 countries like Europe, Western Europe or Japan’s demand and consumption volume for LNG is peaking out, the increase in the emerging market is much bigger than the decrease in the developed countries. So, still in total, the global consumption of LNG or natural gas will continue to increase at least for the next 10 to15 years, until perhaps in 2035 or 2040. People are talking about when will the peak come. My feeling is that, it will be around 2040 and 2045. People are going to have to decrease the global consumption point of LNG or natural gas, but by then we definitely need to increase the gas consumption because it can be a very good alternative to coal. So, we focus more on to LNG projects though, at the same time, we need to think about what will come after LNG. In 2030s or the 2040s, we will accelerate the speed to reduce the emission and, to do so; we definitely need to use the zero carbon type alternative fuels like green ammonia, green methanol and hydrogen. As of today, those energy sources are still in their early stages. The volume of energy supply is very limited and price is too expensive. Therefore, it’s kind of a pilot project. The volumes are very small that for the next 5 to 10 years, it will only remain a very small portion. But, at some stage we are going to need to accelerate the expansion of these green fuels. We have to prepare for that change in the future. So, after 2040 we will reduce our dependency to LNG or any natural gases. It’s a quite big challange especially supply wise, but technically it’s not very difficult.

What about the main engine and propeller system or the drive system as a whole? How can they and the crew be adapted to the new technology?

Today, we are trying to increase the number of the LNG binding vessels. LNG is an already proven technology. Actually, almost all LNG carriers are using LNG as a fuel, therefore to apply this technoloy to other vessels like a bulker, a tanker or car carriers is technically not that much of a big issue. And actually we already started the construction of the so many non-LNG carriers, bulk carriers, tankers and car carriers to use LNG as a fuel. So, ideally, if we can establish these gas-binding vessels, they can be transformed to the next stage, which will be ammonia, methanol or hydrogen. Still, technically we will face some challenges because there is no proven propulsion system to use ammonia and hydrogen. Methanol is ok because like LNG carriers there are quite many methanol carriers that are using methanol as a fuel. So, we have the experience to use methanol as a fuel. The only problem is that currently, we are using grey methanol, not green. The grey methanol does not reduce the CO2 emission; the total emission level is about the same as the fuel oil. So, supply chain is a very big issue for methanol. We are not a fuel supplier. We expect an energy company or a petrol company to produce enough volume of green methanol in the future. But right now there is not enough capacity to fulfill the requirement. Ammonia, though, should be better supply-wise, because its industry is already very well established. And quite big volumes of ammonia are being traded in the market. However, my judgement is that ammonia is a quite hazardous and an awkward fuel to treat. So, it’s a pros and cons situation. We can not judge which one wil turn out better but as of right now I want to keep all options open; methanol, ammonia, LNG to the synthethic methane or bio-methane or so on.

I think the whole world hasn’t decided which fuel is the best.

My judgement is that the supply is the most important issue. So, who will be the reliable, good supplier of alternative fuels? Supply is the key. We are carefully observing the energy market, industry and behaviour of each supplier. The traditional fuel supplier, MOL stands by is, basically oil companies like Exxon, Shell, Total. These people provide a very good quality and quantity of fuel oil. In the future, we are going to need to recieve a good quality of supply of the green fuels. To some extend, we are trying to invest a small amount of money to the upstream projects to know the global trend of the fuel supply industry. But at the end of the day, in my opinion, the decision should be made by the global suppliers like Shell or Exxon. They also haven’t decided what their policy is going to be to which part they will consentrate on. However, at some stage people are going to have to decide because we cannot continue like this, having all options available but not decided. Therefore it’s a very interesting phase. All we can do is, to carefully watch the global market and who will be the market leader and establish the good and the reliable supply of alternative fuels.

You came to Türkiye right after you close your Europe leg of the firm. Why did you choose Türkiye off all countries? Did you have specific shipyards you wanted to work with?

We are using Turkish shipyards for repair and maintenance. So, for example, some of our car carriers are oprating between Türkiye and Europe waters. And those vessels come to Turkish shipyards. For example, Beşiktaş and Sefine.

What do you think of our service? Is it good?

Yes, especially during pandemic, only Türkiye was open. So, it was easy to change seafarers. During that time for ship companies, Türkiye solved the most important issue, the cahnging of the crew. So, Türkiye, won in this aspect.

Mr. Hashimoto: So, every two and a half or five years, we need regular maintenance of the vessels. And we need to use the shipyard to repair the necessary part. Unfortunately, during the pandemic quite many shipyards rejected to recieve new comers. So, finding the place to conduct the regular maintenance became a big problem. The shipyards in Singapour, Dubai, Japan, Korea or China, that we normally use, had very limited capacity. So, as Mr. Katada explained the utilisation of Türkiye’s shipyard dramatically increased during that period. It was very helpful for us and we have a great appreciation and gratitude to the Türkiye’s ship building industry.

Does Japanese Government encourage its own companies to invest in foreign countries? And, how can these investments bring advantages to our countries?

Türkiye is a great center point of the trade and the transportaiton. It’s a quite important cross road between East and West and South and North for global logistics. So, my feeling is even if, nowadays the global economy is facing some difficulties, globalization of the economy has not yet ended as big volumes of products are keep moving around the world. And, Türkiye’s position is strategically important for us because of the so many logisctic requirements from West to East, South to North and vice versa. Therefore, I feel that there are many good opportunities for logisctics part of the investments. Türkiye kind of can be the heart of the global logistics, not only in shipping but also for warehouses, reality properties, domestics and land transportation, the short sea transportation and everything that is related to the logistics business. Mol used to be a very pure shipping company. And our investments mainly concentrated on the vessels investments, which means it’s not particularly in Türkiye. We just ordered our new vessel to the shipyard and constructed quite many numbers of new vessels. However, we are trying to expand our business to different areas of the logistics, including the warehouses, real estates, land-based transportation, etc. I have a strong feeling that here in Türkiye there’s a quite good potential to develope these sectors. And we can enjoy the very good, sound and rapid growth of the business, if we invest into this country. And, it is my target for the next step.

Talking about expending your investments, you are going to start a new coastal service by the small bulker in Black Sea and East Mediterranean. What can we expect from that? What impacts do you forsee for this project? And, can we get a launch date, perhaps?

Maybe Mr. Katada has better insight than me on this project. But, my observation is that, we are still influenced by the consequences of the Ukrain War. The Mediterranean and the Black Sea are, indeed, important basin for the shipping business and it will make sense to provide a regional service that’s based in Türkiye. However, at the same time we have to be very careful because shipping activites in Black Sea is widely restiricted due to the consequences of the war. Therefore, it’s a bit difficult to develope the project in the short coming future. But sooner or later the war will end, and then we are going to need to work hard for the reconstruction of the Ukraine and also many other countries that are facing the Black Sea and Eastern part of the Mediterranea Sea, including North Africa. And, in the long run, we expect an increase in potential in these countries.  Therefore, we really want to develope that sector.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has introduced new regulatory standards for ship energy efficiency, which are to take effect in January 2023. How did you prepare your vessels for the new rules? Do your vessels actualize the conditions of the IMO?

Yes, that’s a quite big issue in the shipping industry. We cannot change our fleet over night. Gradually, we are repressing our old tonnage to the new one and, of course, we are very eager to comply with the IMO’s new rules. However, for now, we have to continue to use our old aged vessels. So, what we can do is, to try to minimize the economic impact of the new regulation to reduce the emission level by slow steaming or utilizing the power supply from the shore side, as much as possible. There are many possible mixtures. But the more important issue is that we need to get the strong support of our customers. The rule change means that, it will cost us additional money and we are trying to explain the situation to our customers and try to share this burden. Otherwise, it will become very difficult for us to continue our service in the Europen waters. Europe is still a quite important market for us, particularly, the container and the car carriers. But, at the same time, we should accelerate the speed of the replacement of the vessels. Mainly, either LNG binding or methanol binding vessels depending, which will be easier for us to apply new regulations in Europe.

What have you done to reach to your zero carbon target and what collaborations do you have on your agenda for decarbonisation, since IMO aims for an 11 percent carbon intensity reduction per 2026, 40 percent in 2030 and 70 percent in 2050? And we know that you have a net zero carbon emission target in 2050. So what have you done for that so far?

So far, our target is to reduce about 50 percent by 2030- 2035, by using LNG and the new technologies or some support from wind power and so on. But to achieve the real net zero, we definitely need to use the alternative fuels. Technology wise, it is difficult but not impossible. We already recognise several pilot projects that are quite successful. Therefore, we can use the green ammonia, green methanol or green hydrogen for the vessel’s propulsion systems. And, I’m quite optimistic about that. The only issue is, the capability of supply of these new fuels. MOL, alone, is using 3 or 4 million tons of fuel as of today. If we include the portion of ONE, perhaps it is more than 5 million tons of fuel that we require every year. So, it means that, all over the world in the shipping industry several hundred million tons of fuel should be repressed by green products. That is a real challenge. In theory, it is possible to produce that huge capacity from renewable energies like water power, wind power and solar power. But it requires a quite massive investment. The global economy, all big countries should work together on how to establish a global infrastructure to support such kind of a drastic change of fuel. And not only the shipping industry but also other industries like power production, iron and steel, aviation and of course otomobile sectors, where the global energy supply volume is really huge. And the current fuels everybody use right now must be repressed in the next 20-25 years. Perhaps, big countries like China or India have a different target. Instead of 2050, their goal might be 2060 or 2070. So, by 2050 we, as MOL, want to achieve the net zero but the global shipping industry as a whole may still have some remaining volume.

We have historical and cultural ties with each other that goes back to the 19th century. How can it reflect to our trade relationships?

We enjoy the good relationships we have. However, in the past, our relationship was rather only historical and cultural. We didn’t recognise Türkiye as a big market. But, nowadays, I am very impressed by the strong performance of the Turkish industries and the quite strong upside potential we see. Now is the time to think about the real investment, real economy. Of course, our cultural and historical ties are very important. However, it is not everything. We really need to think about the business opportunities to work together. From Japanese point of view, for the last 20-30 years China was always the number one target for investments. But, now, with the global geopolitics and some political tension, it’s becoming more difficult to develope new businesses in China. I will say that the tension between US and China is a quite fundemental issue. I expect that this situation will continue for the next 20-30 years. And, Japan is in an awkward situation because China is the most important business counterpart, while the US is the most important political partner, especially for the national security issues. So, we definitely maintain some part of the Chinese business, however for the future investment opportunities, quite many Japanese companies, including us, start to consider rebalancing their international investments.

Türkiye and Türkiye’s seas are very important in this plan. What do you think about China’s One Belt and One Road plan as Japan? And where does Japan stand in between China and US? Are you in the middle or closer to either one of the sides? What is your plan about this situation? And also India is coming and many countries including the US are focused on India. Plus, Africa has become a very important region. And we know that you want to expend your business to Africa with Turkish companies. Where do your plans for your African investments stand after the recent political dynamic changes? Do you see a threat to foreign investments? Could you tell the strategic importance of this region?

Asia is still an important target for us. We’ve been doing business in the Asian countries almost since 1960s. And our business’s expanded gradually in the 1970s and 1980s till today in many East and South East Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and, of course, China. And despite Asia still being the number one important market for us, the problem in Asian market is that we are competing against Korea, China and the market conditions are becoming more and more competitive. And in addition to that through the successful economical developements of each country, they now all nurtured their own industries. So, now that Asian countries are no more green field for us, we need to find the new frontier, to some extend. So, the African and South American countries are very good candidates for us and the next generation. Likewise, Chinese people consider the Belt and Road to be a connector. Actually, the most important business partner for them is US, not South. But, now, they recognise that their relationship with US is becoming more difficult. Therefore, they are focusing on the potentials in the Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries. It’s natural, it’s understandable, but, at the same time, we also need to think about our own strategies on how to be competitive enough in the new markets. So, one of the reasons why Türkiye is important for us is that, our historical ties with Africa is very weak and we do not have a history working with them, unlike Turkish companies. You already established a quite strong business hold in African countries. And you are focusing on quite many African, South and Latin American countries, which Japanese people didn’t pay attention before. Now, we need to focus on these emerging markets. To be successful I think that we better have a business partner to develope the business together. And Türkiye or India can be a good partner of Japanese industries to develope our new businesses in Africa or South America, since your people have already established much intimate relationships with Africa.

You brought 6 million tons LNG to Japan within Qatar Project back in the 2000s. But, as we all know, in terms of clean energy it is not the definite solution and the world needs a faster switch to fuels like ammonia and methanol. Do you have any plans to be a part of projects of the same scale as the Qatar Project, to speed up the switch to cleaner energies, especially in the wake of your zero fuel emission target in 2050?

Yes, especially for ammonia. Now more so, after the Tsunami, Japan really needs to think about how to reduce emission in the power production sector. Right now, we are using both LNG and coal for power generation. But, coal should be repressed as quickly as possible. And, Japanese UTT companies are focusing on ammonia as a quite strong candidate to replace coal. And we recieved a very strong request from Japanese UTT companies to be coperative to transport a very big volume of ammonia, because the production in Japan is very limited. We need to import the green ammonia or blue ammonia from various countries rich in terms of renewable energies, like Australia, US, India and Middle East. We still don’t know which country will become the main ammonia supplier to Japan. But, the size of the demand is quite large. As we really need to transport a very big size of the ammonia in near future, we are focusing on the ammonia sector greatly.

Naomi Matsushita has been appointed as the captain of car carrier Beluga Ace on June. That was the first time for a Japanese oceangoing shipping company to have a female captain. Do you have plans to encourage your female employees to rise in ranks?

Traditionally being a seafarer was a rather man dominated job. But, nowadays, more young Japanese or non-Japanese females are applying to be seafarers. We are quite open to accept them. And as I explained that today’s ship management is much more automated and safer compared to 20-30 years ago. Still, though it has its difficulties, like the long periods of time you have to spend on board, 3-6 miles away from your family. But, young and ambitious people are eagar to build their own careers and we are trying to encourage as many female seafarers as possible and to promote them quickly. But after marriage and having children, not only female seafarers though also male seafarers, nowadays want to stay with their families. And, working on board is becoming a tough challenge for them. That’s in fact, the reason why our Japanese seafarers, today, are short in number. It’s difficult to recruite people of good quality to work many years on board.

Which brand do you prefer to use for the main engines in your vessels now and in the future?

We are rapidly increasing the use of LNG binding engines in our many types of vessels like car carriers, bulk carriers, tankers and ferryboats to utilise LNG. But if you mean, in the future, we recognise that we should increase the number of the vessels to use either ammonia or green methanol. Though, as of today, the number is still very limited. In case of methanol we have some vessels, but for ammonia we are still in the planning stage. So, I hope before 2030 we will have some of our vessels using ammonia as a fuel. But, of course, the design of the engine is different from other engines like oil and LNG binding. However, we are working together with MAN and other engine makers.

Do you use your flag in your fleet or other flags?

Lately, we have been increasing the number of the Japanese flag. Traditionally, 30, 40 years ago almost all vessels had the Japanese flag. Then we changed it to Libarian, Panamanian mainly for the tax frees. But, Japanese Government introduced the Tonnage Tax Scheme, which is a bit similar to the European countries.

Which one is the best for tonnage tax Greece, Holland or British?

Honestly, I don’t know. Because, there is no possibility for us to apply for the UK flag. We can use the Panamanian, Liberian, Bermuda and such kinds of flags or the Japanese flag. It’s our choice. But, honestly, the Japanese system compared to many European systems still a bit inflexable from our point of view. We need to follow a lot of Japanese rules and regulations, when we use it. And, sometimes it will create additional difficulties for us to have non-Japanese seafarers on board. The Japanese Tax Scheme requires at least one or two Japanese seafarers on board. But it is different in the European, Norwegian or the UK system. As far as I know, they can have their whole crew consisting of foreigner seafarers. There are some differences between the Japanese and European system but it’s not that remarkable. So, gradually, we’ve been recovering the number of Japanese flags in our vessels.

Mr. Katada, you recently had a meeting with the Japan Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nishimura Yasutoshi. And you talked him about your invesments in Türkiye. How will this conversation affect our current commercial relationhips?

Yes, I met with the Japanese Minister of Economy but he is a very busy man, so I couldn’t discuss many things. I introduced my activities such as using the Turkish shipping companies to carry Ukranian agricultural products to Türkiye as we cannot send our vessels to that area. I mentioned this and that we are trying to collaborate with a Turkish company to go to another market like Africa, Ukraine and such areas, because Turkish companies are very brave and we are very conservative. You have so many young guys, very challenging people but Japanese companies think about the risks a lot. So, I think the collaborations between Turkish and Japanese companies are very good and I want to continue. I want to find many Turkish companies. So, today we invited many Turkish companies because I would like to bring the Turkish ship industry to Japan. So, next year we have Sea Japan 2024. We asked so many shipyards to come to the Japanese market because Japanese ship owners are very conservative and also doesn’t know about Türkiye. So I want to introduce the Turkish maritime industry to the Japanese shipowners.

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