Japanese energy

Review of Energy Policies: Japan 2003
OECD Observer

The archipelago that makes up Japan is two-thirds mountains, with few indigenous energy resources. As the fourth largest energy consumer in the world, with relatively high energy prices, the most important energy challenge for Japan is security of supply.

The obvious solution to powering Japan may be to choose the relative independence of nuclear power. Yet this option is becoming politically more challenging, according to the Review of Energy Policies: Japan 2003 by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a sister organisation of the OECD. It points out that in recent years, nuclear power operations in Japan have been marred by safety-related incidents, either at generating plant sites or at fuel manufacturing plants. Due to the important role of nuclear in terms of energy security and climate change mitigation, the report urges the government to restore public confidence.

More also needs to be done to improve economic efficiency, notably in the energy markets and the cost-effectiveness of government policies, and Review of Energy Policies: Japan 2003 urges the government to continue market reforms initiated in the last decade. Up to now, there has been little competition in electricity and gas markets. While the recent measures introduced by the government are useful, stronger measures may be needed if competition does not take hold.

Meanwhile, decoupling the rise in energy use from economic growth may prove difficult to achieve. As the Japanese economy recovers, its recent drop in energy-related CO2 emissions and a decline in industrial emissions could very well bounce back. Review of Energy Policies: Japan 2003 points out that energy utilities project a 14% increase in emissions from 1990 to 2010.

Was Japan too optimistic when it committed to a 6% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol? Together with a 30% increase of nuclear power generation by 2010, the government is counting on a number of other tactics to reach that goal, including improving energy conservation, moving away from coal and promoting natural gas for fuel, and tripling its supply of new and renewable energy sources.

©OECD Observer No 240/241, December 2003

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017