According to Marcus Gee, the Japanese are not panicking over high oil prices because of energy reduction policies (i.e., conservation and energy efficiency programs) initiated after the “oil shocks” of the 1970s (As oil soars, Japan’s plan makes a lot more sense, Report on Business, 21 May). Admittedly, these policies had a “remarkable success” at reducing Japan’s oil consumption; however, this is only part of the story—Japan’s reduction in oil consumption was also driven by energy replacement policies intended to decrease its reliance on oil for electrical generation. As a result, between 1973 and 2006, Japan’s reliance on oil dropped about 12 percent, while its dependence on coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy increased by 121, 1,300, and 3,100 percent, respectively.
If the Japanese aren’t panicking over imported oil, they are probably experiencing a growing unease over their continued reliance on imported coal, natural gas, and uranium.
Submitted to Globe and Mail 21 May 2008.