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Massive flow of money into Japanese coal and nuclear power

Why Can’t Japan Kick Coal And Nuclear? Oil Price, Energy Finance in Japan 2018: Funding Climate Change and Nuclear Risk was commissioned by a climate change-focused non-government organization (NGO) called 350.org based in the United States. The study found that the Japanese finance industry gave US$80 billion in loans and underwriting services, the majority (50 percent) of which went straight to coal development, with the other half split between nuclear and other fossil fuel resource companies. The other US$12 billion went to bonds and shares in the same industries.

Among the 151 Japanese financial institutions analyzed in the Energy Finance in Japan 2018study, only 38 of them were not involved with coal or nuclear energy projects. A similar 350.org study from last year shows that Japanese insurance companies represent a large proportion of investors in domestic and international coal industries. Japan’s single biggest investor in coal for the five-year period studied was Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), followed by Nippon Life Insurance (NLI) and Nomura Holdings………..

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the government responded swiftly and strongly to public outcry and shut down all 54 of Japan’s nuclear reactors as they awaited new, significantly more rigorous safety standards. Now, more than 7 years later, just a fraction of these nuclear power plants have reopened for business. It was at this point that Japanese officials started looking for new avenues to power the country, and they found what they were looking for in coal.

It’s difficult to say, however, how long-lived the Japanese coal renaissance will be. There is a large amount of opposition to the extremely dirty fossil fuel, with critics urging Japan to reverse its course and return to “greener” pastures. Encapsulating the nation’s ambivalence, at the same time that Japanese financial institutions were still funneling money into coal power development and bonds earlier this year, Japanese banks were also creating stricter financing guidelines to include advanced air-pollution technologies.

In fact even MUFG, mentioned above as Japan’s single biggest investor in coal, has significantly tightened their coal-financing policies this year, along with  Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. At the same time NLI, Japan’s biggest insurer in terms of revenue, announced in July that it would no longer grant loans to new coal projects or invest in coal-fired plants, citing environmental reasons, and Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Company announced that it would stop financing overseas coal plants in May.

Some critics, including 350.org, say that these changes, while meaningful, are not nearly significant enough to stem the massive flow of Japanese money into coal, and thereby Japanese pollutants into our atmosphere. It’s still unclear whether these first steps away from coal will have any impact on the many coal projects already underway, and while investment may be now limited to some extent, it’s a far cry from divestment. https://oilprice.com/Energy/Coal/Why-Cant-Japan-Kick-Coal-And-Nuclear.html

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September 17, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, Japan

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