GIS Dossier: Japan’s search for an energy strategy after Fukushima
Since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, Japan has sharply decreased its reliance on nuclear energy. Following years of deliberations weighing nuclear’s inherent risks against the expense of energy imports and climate protection obligations, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided that by 2050, about one-fifth of the country’s power will be coming from strictly regulated nuclear facilities.
Japan’s growing concern about energy security
Save for renewables, Japan is devoid of domestic energy sources. Since its nuclear power sector has been reduced to only a minor contributor in the energy mix, the country has had no choice but to increase its imports of hydrocarbons and fall back on its societal and technological strengths to tackle the energy-security challenge in the long term.
Japan needs woman power
Gender equality is not one of Japan’s greatest strengths, but the rapid shrinking and aging of the population have started to exert pressure on a society whose culture is drawn from the samurai era. These values practically exclude young mothers from the workforce and set a very low glass ceiling for professional women.
The burgeoning India-Japan partnership
Japan and India are fast becoming close partners. Small wonder: the two countries both want to counteract China's rise, especially in the Indian Ocean. The countries have strengthened economic and military ties, and together could challenge China at sea. As Beijing attempts to project its power ever further, the Indo-Japanese partnership will only grow.
Asia-Pacific countries look for signs of hope in Trump trade policy
Over the past two years, protectionism has dominated U.S. trade policy decisions, unsettling American trade partners in the Asia-Pacific region. These countries are unlikely to simply buckle to U.S. demands, instead expanding trade relationships with other states. However, there are signs that the administration could soften its stance and return to more pro-free trade policies. If it does, that could lay the groundwork for a return to bigger economic engagement in the region.
Regional shifts are marginalizing ASEAN
In the huge geopolitical shifts happening in East Asia and the Indo-Pacific, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been conspicuously absent. Split over Chinese activity in the South China Sea, the organization is unready to face these new challenges. If ASEAN becomes irrelevant, it will impact the big players, such as the U.S. and China, too – they will have lost a major facilitator of peace and stability in the region.
The Trump-Kim summit: Japan’s perspective
The effects of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in May are still reverberating around the globe, especially in Japan. As the geopolitics in the region shift, it could cause new tensions that the country, with its shrinking population, will be hard-pressed to handle. Its greatest concern is what concessions the Trump administration may be willing to give China for its part in bringing Kim Jong-un to heel, which could have a huge impact on Japan’s security.
East Asia after the Pax Americana
Since the end of the Korean War, the American military presence in East Asia has been crucial to maintaining a balance of power in the region and preventing the outbreak of a major war. Now, with China rising and the United States withdrawing, Japan has been left in limbo. Tokyo must now decide how to tackle some daunting challenges.
The dawn of a new age in Japan
Japan tends to develop in leaps and bounds – and it looks ready to make another such surge. The transformation of life sciences, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics and big data will lead to a new age in the country. It has the political will and fewer of the legal hurdles for scientific research than in the West. And crucially, its rapidly aging and shrinking population will require such innovations.