Japan is seeking Israeli clean tech experts to help rebuild Fukushima, which was devastated by both an earthquake and a tsunami last year.
The Japanese company in charge of rehabilitation recently sent a delegation to Israel looking for experts and entrepreneurs, especially in the fields of water management and recycling. According to the company’s liaison in Israel, Lior Daeri, Israeli groups that participate will receive tax breaks worth NIS 50 million (roughly $12.8 million dollars).
Israel’s green business sectors have developed strong connections throughout Asia. China and Israel are currently collaborating on solar energy projects. India and Israel are working together in agricultural innovation and restoration efforts, especially with regards to India’s waterways.
Back in May, twelve young leaders completed a year-long Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship Program, organized by the Israel-Asia Center in Jerusalem. Many of the fellows, from countries such as Singapore, China, and India, spent the year working part-time at an international networking platform and studying at Israeli universities, pursuing graduate degrees in environmental and agricultural-fields.
But one Asian superpower has so far been absent from Israel’s diverse green partnerships. While Israel imports around $2.5 billion worth of goods a year from Japan, Israel exports much less to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Politics and cultural differences previously stood in the way of Israel developing closer relations with Japan. According to Dr. Roni Burstein, chairman of the Israel-Japan Friendship Society and Chamber of Commerce , Japan imports 90 percent of its oil from Arab countries that do not have good relations with Israel.
Also, Japanese culture, conservative, polite and centered on the value of tradition, is in many ways juxtaposed to the Israeli start-up, pioneer ethos. Independent, tenacious Israeli entrepreneurs generally prefer uncensored opinions and minimal ceremony. The local Israeli phrase “combina,” derived from the English word combine, means to get something done through creativity, connections, ingenuity, or the unusual use of available resources.
But the tides are changing. Both nations are on the cutting edge of developing technology. And slowly, closer ties are being formed. American-born Professor Kenneth Grossberg is currently organizing a tour of Israel for Japanese businessmen and students from the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo. They will visit the Technion, Israeli Institute of Technology; Haifa’s Matam Research Park, home to IBM, Google, Philips, and Microsoft facilities; Tefen Industrial Park, built by industrialist Stef Wertheimer to promote creativity by linking industry with art, and companies such as Nanometrics and Given Imaging, creator of the “pill camera.”
“Japan and Israel are like yin and yang, but their opposite sides complement each other,” said Grossberg. As long as the situation remains relatively stable in Israel, the Japanese are open to increased collaboration.
Image of nuclear plant in Japan via Silverkblack, Shutterstock
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