Post Oil Strategy in Japan


Yasukuni Okubo(1), Hitoshi Mikada(2), Shinichirou Morimoto(1) and Yoshinori Ishii(3)
(1) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba 305-8567, Japan(2) Grad. Schoolof Eng., Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan(3) Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo

In Japan, the fraction of oil to be consumed in the whole energy supply is 50 percent. The dependency of imported oil on the Middle East is estimated about 90 percent (Figure). We, in Japan, have been aware of a peak-oil approaching rapidly and risking stable oil supply to the country. In this context, the Japanese government started advocating a special strategic motion towards this inevitable issue. Last year, the Prime Minister Koizumi mentioned “post oil strategy” through the web site of the Cabinet Office, for demonstrating implications of the energy issue.

The points of the post oil strategy are: (1) National risk management; (2) Comprehensive research and development for alternative energy; (3) Innovation of agriculture; (4) Decentralization for revitalization of local regions; (5) Innovation in transportation.
In April 2006, a light rail train (LRT) system was introduced in Toyama, a prefectural capital whose population is about 0.3 million, as an example of local revitalization and innovation in transportation after decades of run-downs of electric tramways. The light railway, which operates along a set of pathway on steel rails, was very common in the local cities in Japan as Toyama city. Despite their high-energy efficiency, many light railways have been discontinued and have been replaced by car transportation, mainly due to decreasing number of passengers and to increasing number of automobiles causing traffic jams. This attempt in Toyama, has surely stimulated the activity of local habitant, and shown their clear-sighted view to future energy supply.

Energy supply and demand forms a large energy flow in the world. In the circumstances near the peak oil, the flow of energy should be re-organized. To stabilize the flow, Japan might require a new energy network. It is unavoidable to have a network to exchange not only nonrenewable energy resources but also evolvable resources such as information, technology and human resources for energy conservation or efficiency.
“Mottainai” is the thoughtful Japanese expression to ask people to make use of what they have as a gift from the nature without any waste. The word closest to Mottainai in English is "What a waste!", "Do not waste!" or the situation a thing is being wasted or being used without good care and consideration. We know that the many Asian people have more or less the same mentality for commodity, foods, energy, etc. The Asian network would be the most preferable idea for saving natural resources.

Figure. OPEC and Middle East dependencies and oil stock piles in Japan.
by tikyuu_2006 | 2006-05-29 10:07 | エネルギー、環境
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