Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed in his first policy speech Monday that his country aims to become carbon neutral within 30 years.
Suga, who succeeded Shinzo Abe as prime minister in September, told Japanese legislators the financial fortunes for the world's third-largest economy will benefit from addressing climate change.
"Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth," Suga said in his address, noting the goal is to become carbon neutral by 2050.
"We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about growth."
Suga said he will promote environmentally friendly economic growth through research and development, regulatory reforms and digitalization. He said Japan will "make a fundamental transition" from its reliance on coal to a combination of renewable and nuclear power.
Acknowledging the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Japan's economy, Suga said the government will look to deliver promised reforms that started under Abe.
"We're going to work on those we can now do, as soon as possible, so that you will see results. Since the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power, we've dealt with various everyday challenges to resuscitate the economy and rebuild diplomacy and national security.
"For the future, we're going to inherit reform efforts in various areas and, based on that, we will work toward new growth."
Suga said Japan's relationship with the United States is a "cornerstone" of Tokyo's diplomacy and national security, and that South Korea needs to take "appropriate actions to restore healthy Japan-South Korea relations."
Suga also said he's willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without conditions and that he's determined to "rebuild a new era of Japan-China relations."