Japan’s Political Ambitions could be Jeopardized by its Energy Dependence

Source: NEO

April 29, 2019 | byValery Matveev

There has been much talk of Japan recently, which has significantly intensified its foreign policy: Japan is working together with the United States to promote the Indo-Pacific strategy with multilateral support within the framework of the US-Japan-India-Australia quadrilateral security dialogue (QUAD), which involves strengthening the Japan Self-Defense Forces and intensive peace treaty negotiations with Russia.

It is a well-known fact that one of the aims of a country’s foreign policy is to ensure the state experiences progressive internal social and economic development. For Japan’s high-tech and industrialized economy, which does not have enough of its own national energy resources to satisfy all its energy needs, one of the most important preconditions for economic growth is to secure an uninterrupted imported energy supply. However, to succeed in solving this problem, it is necessary to highlight two key factors here: a sufficient supply and a competitive price. Let’s try to gain an insight into what the Japanese economy needs in terms of energy resources and where the supply comes from.

Although Japan’s total area exceeds 370 thousand square kilometers; today, the county does not have enough natural resources to meet its own energy needs. This is largely linked to the aggressive exploitation of natural resources which took place in the past, which you can get a good sense of by looking at a map of all the mining enterprises which used to operate in Japan, along with all the oil and gas fields.

Japan is the world’s third largest oil consumer, second only to the US and China. The Japanese consume about two billion barrels of oil a year, 99.7 percent of which is imported. Tokyo weighs in heavy on imports in world rankings, bypassing Beijing to take second place. A significant risk factor threatening Japan’s oil supply is the conflict in the Middle East — violent, simmering flare-ups which could boil over — as Japan sources more than 86 percent of all its imported oil from the region (Saudi Arabia – 31.1%, UAE – 25.4%, Qatar – 10.2%, Iran – 11.5%, Kuwait – 8.2%).

Therefore, it is no wonder that the Japanese authorities are anxiously monitoring the situation in the Asia Pacific gas market. China is the leading buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Asia Pacific, whose demands for “blue fuel” are only set to grow.

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