Japan’s Energy Security: Anatomy of an Energy Policy

Understanding the reasons for Japan’s failed energy policy will help provide useful tools and perspectives for policy makers, present and future.


The aim of this research is to decipher and analyse Japan’s energy policy, and its development and outcome since the early 70s, focusing on an evaluation of ‘energy security’ from the year 2000 through to the present.

The analysis is based on the primary assertion that Japanese governments have largely failed over the years to achieve ‘energy security’. The proposed research therefore aims to answer a major question regarding Japan’s energy policy for achieving energy security.

Current research has focused on contemporary explanations for Japan’s present problematic energy security situation, such as recent domestic and regional instability in the major oil and natural gas producing countries, fierce competition between consumers for access to these resources and the uncertainty regarding the amount of fossil fuels remaining to meet world energy needs. However these studies have overlooked the underlying causes for the malfunction of the Japanese energy policy, causes which have challenged Japan in dealing with their current difficulties. My central argument and aim is to demonstrate that the major obstacles since the early 2000s to Japan’s achieving energy security are the result of incremental and cumulative formulation and implementation malfunctions in their energy policy from the 1980s to the present – problems aggravated by the current obstacles mentioned above.


My research, the first study in understanding the relationship between long term political-economic-perceptional factors and current policy outcomes, is aimed at providing a new perspective for the understanding of Japan’s energy policy. Understanding the particular constraints Japan has faced while seeking to improve energy security over the years will provide useful tools and perspectives for policy makers. This research will offer short and long term solutions, including suggestions regarding new primary domestic and international response mechanisms, institutional planning and eduction, and social concensus building in order to achieve social responsibility for the use of energy. Inherent in the proposed research, therefore, are crucial policy implications.

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