Earthquake & Energy Policy: März 2011

März 2011

The Earthquake in Japanese Energy Policy

Andrew DeWit

In this article, I argue that while Japan's crisis reaches across public health, provisioning, financial policy, and the like, it centres on energy. Energy is the world's largest business, at fully 10 per cent of the USD 60 trillion global economy. It is certainly the bedrock sector of any modern economy. And in this crisis, Japan's power generation, energy security, and energy plans have taken perhaps the most profound and protracted blow. Energy is already the critical short-term challenge. That will not change in the medium- and long-term either. But policy choices made now, in the midst of this crisis, and right in its wake, will be of utmost importance in shaping the future. Energy policy, it is often said, responds to crises rather than elections, and Japan is reeling from an unprecedented shock in what was already a fraught global context. Japan's predicament may in fact be far worse in its urgency, and the global implications of inadequate or inapt responses more dire, than the collapse of it bubble economy two decades ago or even the global financial shock of just a few years past.

This article begins by assessing the nature and magnitude of Japan's crisis. But it goes on to show how Japan could emerge from the disaster, one that has effectively nullified its energy strategy, much stronger for it. Japan is at present menaced by several concurrent, concatenating crises. But with smart and responsible energy policies and politics, it could pioneer approaches that help lead us all out of our increasing dire, energy-centred dilemmas.

Andrew DeWit is Professor of the Political Economy of Public Finance, School of Policy Studies, Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Kaneko Masaru, he is the coauthor of Global Financial Crisis published by Iwanami in 2008.

Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, The Earthquake in Japanese Energy Policy, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 1, March 28, 2011.

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