Land of the Rising Sun’s Energy Conundrum

National Economy

The population of the “Land of the Rising Sun,” (State of Japan) is approximately 125.60 million people[1]. In 2021, 100% of the people in this island nation off the east coast of Asia, had access to electricity[2].

In 2021, Japan’s economy was ranked 3rd in gross domestic product (GDP) in the world[3]. The country’s economy is dependent on the export[4] of cars, integrated circuits, motor vehicle parts, machinery, and photo lab equipment.

Environment Policies

In 1945, the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II. The nuclear holocaust left an indelible fear of nuclear power on the people of Japan, even today.

In 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred approximately twenty miles off the east coast of Japan, creating a tsunami that devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This nuclear disaster increased concerns over nuclear power plants across Japan.

In 2016, Japan signed the Paris Climate Agreement[5], committing to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 26% below 2013 levels by 2030.

In 2019, the Japan committed to become a carbon-neutral country by 2050. The Japanese government plans to use carbon-capture technology and hydrogen to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2021, utilities used natural gas (35.1 %), coal (32.5 %), renewable energy (22.4 %), nuclear energy (6.6 %) and oil (3.4 %) to generate electricity in Japan[6]. Solar, hydropower, geothermal, and wind are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Japan.

Recent renewable energy projects in Japan include:

  • 6 MW Offshore Wind Farm – Japanese joint venture, Akita Offshore Wind Corporation is continuing work on the Akita Noshiro Offshore Wind project. The project is located off the northwest coast of Japan and is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 3 MW Solar + Energy Storage Project – In October 2020, Japanese company Softbank commissioned a solar plus energy storage project in the northern island of Hokkaido.
  • 40 MW Solar Projects – In July 2020, Japanese engineering firm, Toko Electrical Construction commissioned two interconnected solar plants in the Fukushima Prefecture.
  • 9 MW Solar Project – Japanese multinational corporation, Toshiba is continuing work on the Yatsubo Solar Power Plant in the Tochigi Prefecture. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by April 2023.
  • 2 MW Solar Projects – In September 2022, Japan’s state-run Green Investment Promotion Organization awarded multiple solar projects with a total capacity of 26.2 MW in the latest solar energy project auction.
  • 2 MW Solar Project – Japanese multinational company, Toshiba is continuing work on the Ikeda Solar Power Plant in the Tochigi Prefecture. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by April 2023.
  • 4 MW Wind Project – In March 2021, Japanese infrastructure company, Ichigo commissioned the Ichigo Yonezawa Itaya ECO Power Plant near the border of the Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures.


Japan is an aerially small, densely populated, highly industrialized country, which has limited renewable energy resources. Although, nuclear power plants emit zero greenhouse gases, there is strong public opposition to nuclear power plants in Japan.

Japan imports the majority of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for power generation, heating, and transportation. In 2020, Japan spent[7] U.S. $38.4 Billion for imported crude oil and U.S. $31.4 Billion for imported liquified natural gas (LNG).

In 2021, Japan used fossil fuels to generate 71.0 % of the nation’s electricity. In 2021, Japan imported 9% of its liquified natural gas[8]and 4% of its crude oil from Russia.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the United States, Canada, and the European Union placing embargos on Russian exports. The international prices for crude oil and liquified natural gas have increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

Studies indicate green hydrogen fuel and carbon capture systems are promising technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although promising, green hydrogen fuel and carbon capture systems are still unproven technologies.

Will carbon capture systems and green hydrogen fuels enable Japan to become a carbon-neutral nation by 2050 without nuclear power? Will sky-rocketing fossil fuel prices devastate Japan’s economy?

The Land of the Rising Sun is truly facing an energy conundrum.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”



Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.


[1] Japan Population (2022) –  October 6, 2022,

[2] The World Bank Group, Access to Electricity (% of Population – Japan

[3] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2021 – Worldometer

[4] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Japan

[5] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[6] Our World In Data, Japan:  Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

[7] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Japan Imports

[8] S&P Global Commodity Insights, “Japan Urges Importers To Accelerate Securing Alternatives To Russian LNG” by T. Kumagai, 7 July 2022

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