A first ever Japanese Formula E race is a step closer to reality after positive recent meetings in both the city of Yokohama and Tokyo.
Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city by population after the capital, Tokyo, is understood to be a possible host city for an E-Prix, with at least one provisional track layout believed to already exist in the Minato Mirai 21 area of Yokohama.
The Race understands that the local chamber of commerce is supporting a potential future Yokohama event and is discussing with local agencies and Formula E if it could go ahead.
Meetings are believed to have most recently taken place in late October with officials said to be favourable, in principle, towards an event taking place in the coming years.
The Minato Mirai area is a business hub, shopping and tourism location which incorporates several landmarks including Cosmo World amusement park, the Minato Mirai concert hall and the Kishamichi Promenade area. It is also well served by large hotels and public transport.
Japan will host the delayed 32nd Olympics, which is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8 next summer. The baseball and softball competitions will take place in Yokohama while the majority of other events will be located in or around Tokyo.
The country recently had a significant change in power. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe served eight years in office before resigning last August. He was replaced by Yoshihide Suga who began his political career in Yokohama where he was elected to the city council in the 1980s.
It is believed that, should final approvals be achieved in either Tokyo or Yokohama, then an official Formula E feasibility study for a race could be conducted shortly before a provisional race deal for the 2021/22 season.
Nissan’s head of global motorsport, Tommaso Volpe, told The Race last month that a future race in Japan would be an attractive proposition for his firm, which has its headquarters in Yokohama and has a team in Formula E, Nissan e.dams.
“It would be a cherry on the cake definitely having a race in our domestic market,” he said.
“Our key markets in terms of volumes are US, China, and then Europe and of course, Japan. And there is even more focus now on this for macro areas.
“I don’t know many of the other car manufacturers in the series are as global as Nissan.
“The championship already generates a lot of value with the calendar as it is, in the Americas, including South America as well and we are super strong.”
Formula E is aiming to expand its events in Asia in the near future.
A race in Seoul, South Korea is planned for next year, but a race in Sanya – which last took place in the 2018/19 season (above) – just off mainland China is believed to be difficult to achieve in 2021, meaning that the Seoul E-Prix could be the only event on the continent.
The Hong Kong E-Prix, which ran from 2016 to 2019, is currently unable to form part of the Formula E calendar due to the civil and political instability within the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.