Japan is eager to purchase Canadian liquefied natural gas, but the country is looking to act soon ambassador Norihiro Okuda told First Nations leaders at a summit in Prince George on Wednesday.
"Japan is one of the big consumers of LNG, one of the big purchasers or importers of LNG," Okuda said.
"At the same time when it comes to LNG here in British Columbia, the Japanese government as well as Japanese businesses are well aware of the need to put huge investments in British Columbia because LNG is a relatively new product for British Columbia and therefore there is not sufficient infrastructure needed to export LNG."
Okuda said Japanese government agencies and companies need to know soon what will be done to get natural gas from the peace region to the North coast where it could be liquefied and transported by tanker to Japan.
"They want to get to know all the needed information so they can make a strategic long term decision," he said.
"So I think when you talk to Japanese business people they have to say always that they are pressed for time."
The provincial and federal governments are keen to see Canadian gas shipped offshore, but acknowledge it will take a few years before the pipelines, plants and export facilities are in place. In the meantime, negotiations are ongoing with First Nations groups who have concerns about the environmental impact of increased extraction and so many new pipelines that would crisscross northern B.C.
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council organized a major industry summit in Prince George, featuring chiefs from around the province, political leaders from all levels of government and industry groups.
Okuda, who considers himself "a novice" when it comes to issues facing First Nations groups, said his government wants to find out more about Aboriginal concerns.
When asked if Japan was prepared to consult with both elected chiefs and hereditary chiefs in B.C., Okuda said his government was pleased with the discussions it had so far at the conference.
"Those people who are ready to talk to us, all of them are legitimate interlocutors," he said.