Saturday, July 05, 2008

Japan in the Spotlight

Japan gets its moment in the spotlight now with the G8 Summit on July 7-9:

1) IHT: Japan set to show off its expertise on energy frugality

Japan, by many measures, is the most energy-frugal country among the world's developed nations. After the energy crises of the 1970s, the country forced itself to conserve with government-mandated energy-efficiency targets and steep taxes on petroleum. Energy experts also credit a national consensus on the need to consume less.

It is also the only industrial country that sustained government investment in energy research even after oil prices fell.

"Japan taught itself decades ago how to compete with gasoline at $4 per gallon," said Hisakazu Tsujimoto of the Energy Conservation Center, a government research institute that promotes energy efficiency. "It will fare better than other countries in the new era of high energy costs."

According to the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, Japan consumed half as much energy per dollar worth of economic activity as the European Union or the United States, and one-eighth as much as China and India in 2005. While the country is known for its green products like hybrid cars, most of its efficiency gains have come in less eye-catching areas, for example, by cutting energy use in manufacturing.

2) Financial Times: Japan goes missing: invisible host at the summit

The summit sherpas say we should expect nothing of great significance, though their political bosses must insist otherwise. Japan’s preparations have won few plaudits. Ponderous planning has sometimes revealed as many divisions among ministries in Tokyo as among other capitals.

The goal is consensus: better bland accord than public discord. Others in the G8 have used their summits to promote pet projects – Britain trumpeted aid for Africa, Germany climate change. Japan seems to lack any burning priorities.

Two very different views about Japan, 2008.

1 comment:

Pandabonium said...

"It will fare better than other countries in the new era of high energy costs." Really? How are we doing with high grain costs? The 60% increase in the price of fertilizer? What about the flight cancellations, bus and ferry route cutbacks? And we've barely begun to see the effects of peak oil (a term left unspoken by the government).

Japan has NO fossil fuels of its own. Of course it works harder at efficiency. But how will it cope when the S*** really hits the fan?

The G8, including Japan, have economic growth, ie corporate profits, as the #1 concern, and that means "go along to get along" so Japan's corporations can sell their goods abroad.