TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - The world's first liquefied hydrogen carrier left Japan on Friday to pick up its first cargo in Australia, with a return to Japan expected around late February, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (7012.T) said. The A$500 million ($362 million) pilot project, led by Japan's Kawasaki and backed by the Japanese and Australian governments, was originally scheduled to ship its first cargo of hydrogen extracted from brown coal in Australia in the spring.

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