|e5 Lab.Inc. (President: Tomoaki Ichita; Headquarters: Tokyo) today announced the establishment of Marindows Inc. (President: Yasumasa Suetsugu; Headquarters: Tokyo) on March 3 to bring the world’s most advanced information technology (IT) to Japan’s maritime industry. e5Lab is a joint venture of four companies: Asahi Tanker Co., Ltd., Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation that aims to develop electrically powered, zero-emission vessels.
Issues Facing the Japanese Maritime Industry
Looking at logistics in Japan – a maritime nation surrounded by the sea – marine transport accounts for 45% of Japan’s domestic cargo transport and 99% of overseas cargo transport. In recent years, the maritime industry, which serves as Japan’s lifeline, has faced extremely complex and difficult-to-solve social, environmental, and economic issues. These include a shortage of manpower due to a sharp decline in the working-age population, long working hours and dangerous work for crewmembers, global-scale environmental issues, and intense competition from overseas such as China and South Korea. The depressed Japanese maritime industry leads not only to problems in logistics, but also a decline in overall national strength, bringing various negative impacts on all types of land-based businesses. Considering this situation, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has promoted legislation aimed at improving productivity and creating a more attractive work environment in the maritime industry and enhance the business foundation of the Maritime sector *1.
*1. On February 5, 2021, the Cabinet approved “a bill to partially revise the Marine Transportation Act to strengthen the foundation of the entire maritime industry, for example, by enhancement of competitiveness in the shipbuilding and ocean shipping fields, workstyle reforms for seafarers, and improvement of productivity in coastal shipping.
Roles of Marindows
As typified by Smart City, the digital transformation (DX) has been promoted beyond individual corporate frameworks by national and local governments. The nextgeneration services and systems inspired by DX create completely new values and businesses. On the other hand, the maritime industry, with a market scale exceeding ¥8.5 trillion, got behind of DX due to various hurdles such as difficulty in development of communication environment and longstanding business practices. Under such circumstances, an ocean broadband (ocean BB) service, using a next-generation satellite, will start in 2022.