Japan’s continued backing of coal power has left it isolated at this week's G7 and facing a barrage of pressure from environmental groups.

The No Coal Japan coalition - an alliance of over 35 environmental groups - and Beyond Coal campaign which aims for a 2030 coal phase out in Japan, Australia, Europe, South Korea, and the United States has jointly placed a full page ad in the UK’s Financial Times (Asia edition) calling on the world’s third largest economy to end coal and invest in renewable energy today.

During pre-G7 negotiations, Japan has repeatedly attempted to stymie an agreement on ending overseas coal finance and refused to agree to end domestic coal by 2030. Its insistence on maintaining loopholes risks wrecking any eventual deal.

“Japan is the only G7 country still building coal-fired power stations at home and financing coal power overseas,” said Kimiko Hirata, International Director of Kiko Network.

Despite its pledge to reach Net Zero by 2050, Japan is currently building 6GW of new coal-fired power. It has also failed to rule out funding for coal power overseas, and is actively considering financing the construction of the Matarbari 2 coal plant in Bangladesh and Indramayu coal plant in Indonesia. Civil society groups issued a sign on letter on Monday urging the Japanese government to reject financing for the projects and end its overseas fossil fuel finance.

Furthermore, Japan has been leading the pushback against the recent International Energy Association (IEA) net zero pathway which called for no new fossil fuels. The report states that wealthy nations must go faster in phasing out fossil fuels and help finance an equitable transition in developing countries. Akihisa Matsuda, the deputy director of international affairs at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), said the government has no plans to immediately stop oil, gas and coal investments, stating the IEA scenario, saying it is “not necessarily in line with Japanese Government policy.”

“As we have seen already throughout Europe and in the US, advanced economies are inevitably heading towards a complete phase out of coal power by 2030. Japan can save the international community a lot of climate headaches - and itself a lot of wasted time and money - by also committing to a 2030 phase out,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director. “The G7 summit provides a stage for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to join the rest of the G7 countries and help speed the end of coal in the OECD.”

"The majority of the coal burned in Japan is sourced from Australia - and coal is the number one driver of climate change,” said David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“Japan and the world watched in horror as Australia burned, lives lost and wildlife annihilated in the 2019/20 bushfires - which were driven by the burning of coal as the greatest driver of climate change. In order to protect both Australian and Japanese people, nature and wildlife from the worsening impacts of climate change, Japan should end reliance on Australian coal and commit to shifting away from coal and embracing renewable energy sources by 2030."

“Japan’s addiction to coal is undermining efforts to address the climate crisis. Japan must end its support for coal at home and abroad, including rejecting finance for the Indramayu and Matarbari 2 coal plants,” said Susanne Wong, Senior Campaigner of Oil Change International.

“This year Prime Minister Suga has already made the positive move of pledging to cut Japan’s emissions by 46% with an effort to 50% by 2030,” said Hirata. “The resulting shift will create jobs and drive investment at home, and also improve Japan’s tarnished international reputation on climate. But the reticence to take concrete steps such as ending coal finance and committing to coal phase-out places a major question mark over Japan’s credibility.”

Mr Suga has the opportunity to put this right at the G7 and he should seize it with both hands.”

PDF is available from here.

Related Links

Japan Beyond Coal Together let’s phase out coal power in Japan by 2030!
No Coal Japan Why Japan Needs to End Coal.


Kiko Network, Kimiko HIrata: khirata@kikonet.org
Oil Change International, Susanne Wong: susanne@priceofoil.org