Tamil Nadu is now the most preferred investment destination in India for Japan, said the Director, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Chennai Osamu Hisaki, on Saturday.

He was inaugurating a two-day national conference on ‘Renewable energy for process heat applications in industry,' with special focus on the tea industry, organised by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) here.

Pointing out that Asian markets account for nearly 40 percent of the operating profits of the Japanese companies, he said that this had led to an increase in Japanese investments in Asia, especially India. There were 725 Japanese companies in India and Tamil Nadu headed the list with 240.

Pointing out that the major investments were in auto, auto ancillary, engineering, information technology and electronics, he said that it was expected that the next wave of investments would cover, among others, service, food processing and infrastructure, including renewable energy.

Stating that JETRO had learnt that Tamil Nadu was in the forefront in promoting ‘green energy,' he adverted to the State government's proposal to encourage solar power in a big way by creating a number of solar energy parks.

JETRO's activities also focussed on alternative energy and environment. The organisation's Chennai office received, on an average, 30 business inquiries every month from Japanese enterprises. This indicated India's prominence in the business radar of Japanese investors.

Japan was playing a leading role in developing new state of the art technologies to improve energy efficiency and development of new energy resources. The Chairman and Managing Director, TEDA R.Christodas Gandhi, who presided, said that Tamil Nadu was the first to harness wind energy in the country. The Nilgiris Collector Archana Patnaik said that the immense potential for promoting alternative energy in the district should be tapped.

Secretary-General, UPASI, Ullas Menon, said that energy formed a sizeable part of the cost of production in tea factories.

Executive Director, Tea Board, R. Ambalavanan, welcomed the gathering.