The country’s capital is planning a massive investment plan, worth 45.2 billion yen ($385 million), to be spent on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen refilling stations that would be ready in time for the 2020 Olympics.
The plan is also an integral part of the broader strategy to cut Japan’s reliance on nuclear power devised by the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Tokyo has pledged to construct 35 new hydrogen refueling stations to be used by upcoming fuel cell vehicles and is also currently negotiating a deal with Toyota and Honda. According to Makoto Fujimoto, chief of the metropolitan government’s energy department planning team, the first and third largest Japanese automakers would put 6,000 hydrogen cars on Tokyo’s roads during the timeframe to the 2020 Olympics. Back in March 2011, with an earthquake and subsequent tsunami wave damaging the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, Japan suffered its worst nuclear disaster since World War II. Now, the country is heavily investing into hydrogen power resources and additionally the city of Tokyo is pressured to invest and upgrade the transportation system to make it fuel cell friendly in preparation for the quadrennial games.
According to Prime Minister Abe, which received the very first Mirai fuel cell production car to the government official, Japan would soon become a “hydrogen society,” with cells producing electricity derived from the chemical element not only powering cars, but also homes and office buildings. Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker is among the early promoters of the new era, as it pioneers fuel cell cars much in the way it did with hybrids.