Japan’s energy security

Challenges, prospects, and global implications

Authored by: Julia Nesheiwat

Handbook of Transitions to Energy and Climate Security

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781857437454
eBook ISBN: 9781315723617
Adobe ISBN:


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Japan has been a global leader in energy and climate reform for decades. It is no accident that Japan hosted the Kyoto Protocol, which is currently the most significant framework for mitigating climate change. By consistently leading efforts towards a greener globe, Japan had been established as an exemplary energy model through its use of nuclear technology. However, its over-reliance on nuclear technology led to an alteration in this position in March 2011. The Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster eventually resulted in a total shutdown of Japan’s nuclear power, which constituted a large portion of its energy mix. 1 These events, known as 3/11 because they occurred on March 11, 2011, had a deleterious effect on Japan’s energy situation, and highlighted areas of weakness in its energy planning. Outside of its nuclear program, Japan lacks self-sufficiency when it comes to energy. As a resource-poor island-nation, Japan depends heavily upon imports for the majority of its energy needs. Thus, despite boasting the world’s third largest economy, Tokyo ranks among the frailest countries in the world when it comes to energy security. Due to Japan’s global stature, aftershocks of the 3/11 disaster have extended beyond Japan to the international community, and Japan’s resolve as a global leader in climate change and civil-nuclear energy has been shaken. However, recent positive steps have been taken by Tokyo to regain footing in the energy sector. Given the energy security challenges that Japan faces, it has been critical for Tokyo to reassess its energy objectives, and it is in the global landscape’s best interest to support initiatives that strengthen Japan’s energy future.

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