Interviews with pioneers@Tokyo CASE 03

CASE 03 "Tokyo after the earthquake--toward a new energy market"

REC Solar Japan Co.,Ltd. President
Mr. Go Sekiguchi

REC Solar Japan Co.,Ltd. is headquartered in Norway, a well-established solar module maker with 20 years of history. This company, which does everything from making solar panels from raw materials to maintaining and operating solar power generation facilities, has thus far centered its business in the European market, with the strategic function of its global marketing team located in Munich.

「"Tokyo after the earthquake--toward a new energy market" 」

Mr. Sekiguchi, the managing director, while considering himself a true Tokyoite, is an international businessman with over ten years of experience in foreign engineering and chemical firms, General Electric of the United States and Victrex of the United Kingdom. The Japan operation of REC, via direct sales as well as through partner firms and distributors, has a wide variety of channels for making panels available mainly to mega-solar and industrial application.

If the company were asked, "Why advance into Japan at this time, after the earthquake?", they would probably answer, "Because now is the time!" With popular consciousness heightened toward new energy, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has announced that Tokyo will work to increase use of renewable energy including solar energy. REC Solar is a company that entered the Japanese market only in 2012, but since succeeding in obtaining orders for mega solar products, the portion of REC's global sales directed to Japan has grown to 30%. With the birth of this new market and demands of the Olympics coming up, it seems just a matter of course that this company with its track record in Europe is now making inroads into Tokyo.

Tokyo is not just another huge market. To take on the market needs of the industrial solar power market in Japan, where REC envisions growth, a new solar panel R&D Center is on the drawing board. The idea is to quickly get into advanced needs arising in established industries in Japan and to nurture and further develop solar power in Tokyo.

Within Tokyo's Special Zone for Asian Headquarters, this move has been planned for the Shinjuku area. And for a pragmatic reason: Shinjuku is where the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is located. The main deciding factors were the ease for getting to customers in the heart of the capital, bus access to airports, ample selection of offices, and the large number of hotels.

"The presence of support from the government was great material for our explaining to headquarters why to invest in Tokyo," Mr. Sekiguchi said. Advice on specific issues like properties, personnel recruitment, and subsidies were of course important, but more than that just the whole positive impetus behind the Tokyo government wanting to bring in foreign investment had persuasive power; making it easy to understand why REC would invest in Tokyo.

Tokyo is also a convenient location for the company to recruit needed bilingual technical experts with experience in areas like semiconductors and electronics industries. But Mr. Sekiguchi has an even higher, more aggressive vision for his native Tokyo. "Tokyo still has way too few speakers of English. It's not simply that only a very small segment of people speak English, but rather how great it would be to have a real impetus to make English the dominant language in this special economic zone." The aspirations of this man from Tokyo who has journeyed across a global environment are both intrepid and high.

(Tami Kawasaki)

Interviews with pioneers@Tokyo

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