Japan  Energy Laws and Conservation

In the past several years, Japan has improved its energy efficiency and energy laws.  Recently, Japan has become a leader in energy innovations.    Japan now provides assistance to many other countries in energy expertise. The Japanese government improved energy polices substantially compared to the era when economic development was pursued without concern over its environmental impact and energy prices were relatively inexpensive.  

Japan is addressing several serious energy problems.  Major Energy issues include concerns over nuclear waste, auto congestion and carbon emissions.

Energy Conservation
Japan is one of the largest energy consumers, together with the U.S., China and Russia.  Fossil fuels accounted for the majority of Japan’s  energy consumption.   One half of Japan's energy consumption comes from petroleum.  Coal and natural gas account for 1/3 and the balance comes from nuclear energy and other sources.

Japan has supported efforts to combat global warming and was host to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change settled in 1997.  Japan ratified the Kyoto Protocol in June 2002. The Kyoto Protocol was ratified by 55 nations.  Those nations accounted for over half of carbon dioxide emissions from industrialized countries in 1990.
In order to reduce emissions, Japan proposed accelerating energy conservation by improving renewable power generation and increasing the use of natural gas instead of coal.

As part of its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, the MOE may impose a tax on carbon emissions.  This has become known as the environment tax.

Japanese carbon emissions have continued to increase.  In order to achieve levels under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan needs to reduce carbon emissions substantially. However, recent trends reveal that Japan is increasing its carbon emissions.  Japan’s industrial carbon dioxide emissions increase due to thermal electricity plants to counteract the closure of nuclear plants. Tokyo Electric Power closed its nuclear facilities after a serious scandal.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Law
Japan is one of the most energy efficient countries in the metropolitan world.  Japan must be energy efficient because Japanese energy costs are the highest in the world.  Japan’s heavy industries have become efficient energy users.  Also, Japan has shifted from high energy consuming industries.
In the past few years, Japan has become one of the most efficient energy using countries in the world.   Japan’s Energy Conservation Law establishes energy efficiency requirements for its products, including autos, appliances and other uses.

Energy Consumption Trends
For it own survival, Japan has achieved a reasonably low energy consumption rate.  This is due to the adoption of energy efficient methodologies and government requirements.  Even though Japan is among the most frugal countries in the world, the government has embraced national policies recommending that citizens replace old inefficient appliances, purchase hybrid vehicles and various conservation measures in order to reduce energy consumption and reduce global warming.   In the past few years, Japan's per capita energy consumption and carbon emissions have been one half the U.S. level.

Nuclear Energy

Japan has proposed the increase in nuclear energy to increase energy sources and to reduce its carbon emissions.  Japan intends to construct several new nuclear power plants.

Safety issues have seriously reduced nuclear expansion. Opposition has grown due to the accident at the Tokaimura uranium plant in 1999 and the discovery during 2002 that inspection findings at nuclear reactors had not been properly reported to the government.  Reduction in nuclear power generation has caused reliance on thermal power. A number of new nuclear projects have been delayed due to safety concerns. Japan is planning facilities to reprocess depleted nuclear fuel.

Renewable Energy
Japan published an Energy Plan in 2002.   It focused upon efficient use of energy and development of nuclear power plants in order to reduce emissions.  The Plan follows the 1999 Energy Conservation Law calling on the promotion of environmentally sensitive products and technologies.  These included solar cells and low emission vehicles.   Japan has been investigating geothermal electricity generation because of the available sites.

Japan has initiated policies regarding renewable energy. In 2000, the government strongly promoted the use of wind power.  Renewable energy, such as wind power, was promoted by 2003 legislation.  New laws allowed sale by independent operators with small capacity to sell electricity.  Japan also passed a law requiring that some power come from renewable sources.  This was intended to force major power providers to generate renewable energy.

Japanese Ethanol Joint Venture
Nippon Alcohol Hanbai (NAH) of Japan formed a joint venture with Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil and gas company.  The purpose of the venture is to produce fuel ethanol for the Japanese market.

Nippaku Ethanol is the new venture between the two firms which targets the Japanese market. Japan needs ethanol in order to achieve its Kyoto obligations.  Petrobras has entered the venture to join the international fuel market in order to open other opportunities for fuel distribution in Japan.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Koizumi, and Brazil’s President da Silva agreed to promote more co-operation to promote ethanol use. Japanese law promotes 3% ethanol in its gasoline.  There is discussion to increase the blend to 10%, thereby tripling the Japan market. Petrobras intends to invest several hundred million dollars to develop its infrastructure.

Japan has worked diligently to improve its energy conservation policies.  It has enhanced its careful monitoring and control of pollution and carbon emissions.  Japan is now working toward sustainable energy technologies.  The government is focusing upon energy efficiency.   At the same time, Japan is promoting the development of renewable, non-polluting energy.

The Japan people and its government are facing major environmental challenges such as carbon emissions and air pollution. Japan is an important part of the global strategic interests which are concentrating on the methods to overcome the world's energy crisis.

Home | Our Mission | Newsletters | Resources | About Us | Contact Us

1750 11th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122 | (415) 571.8880
Copyright © 2009, Fukuda Law Firm     Disclaimer

Our newsletters do not provide legal advice or opinions. Legal questions may be complicated and experienced counsel
should be consulted in connection with particular cases.  Advice should be given relative to specific facts and conditions.