Japan’s energy sector

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Japan energy policy and architecture was shaken up by the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Japan energy policy did not see much change since 1952, and at the time of the Fukushima disaster the official strategy was to increase nuclear power generation to 50% of Japan’s electricity needs.

The Fukushima disaster in March 2011 shook up both Japan’s architecture and also energy politics. Today all of Japan’s nuclear power stations are switched off, and Japan’s pre-2011 energy strategy has been completely revised.

Japan energy policy – legal framework

The basis for Japan’s energy architecture is a framework of laws, among them the Energy Policy Fundamental Law (エネルギー政策基本法), the Electricity Business Law (電気事業法) of July 11, 1964 and others.

Japan’s energy policy is largely made by the Industry Ministry METI, although other Ministries, such as the Environmental Ministry or the Agricultural and Fisheries Ministry also have impact regarding land use, or CO2 issues for example.

Japan energy policy: primary energy

With the current energy architecture, with extremely low usage of renewable energy, Japan’s primary energy is mostly imported. While nuclear power stations were running they supplied about 30% of Japan’s primary energy, and Japan imported about 82% of primary energy needs, while 18% of energy came from domestic sources including nuclear energy. With nuclear energy essentially switched off, Japan’s self-sufficiency ratio dropped to 4%, i.e. currently Japan needs to import about 96% of primary energy in the form of oil, natural gas, coal and other forms.

Japan’s electricity industry

The global electricity generation capacity is about 2 TeraWatt, and Japan’s total electricity generation capacity is about 200 GigaWatt. Thus Japan has about 10% of the global electricity generation capacity.

Japan’s electricity industry is governed by the Electricity Business Law (電気事業法) of July 11, 1964 which goes back to 1952 and by the Electricity Utilities Business Law. Japan’s electricity production, grid, distribution and retail are historically dominated by 10 large regional monopoly electricity operators, the largest of which is Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). As a consequence of the nuclear accident in Fukushima Japan’s Government is currently working on liberalizing Japan’s electricity industry, however the time scale of this liberalization is quite long.

Japan’s electricity grid and smart grid

Japan’s electricity grid architecture results from a very long time of regional monopoly electricity operators since 1952. Thus Japan’s electricity grid consists of 10 regional grids which are relatively weakly linked.

Japan’s 50Hz/60Hz issue:

Historically Japan’s electrification started in Tokyo using 50Hz equipment produced by the German company AEG, and in parallel in Osaka with 60Hz equipment produced by the US company General Electric. As a result Japan consists of two largely independent grids, the grid for Western Japan uses 60Hz, while the grid for Eastern Japan uses 50Hz. These two grids are linked via three comparatively low capacity frequency converter stations.

Japan energy policy: renewable energy pre-Fukushima vs post-Fukushima

The development of renewable energy was for a long time a low priority in Japan, and regional electricity operators kept the capacity of renewable energy production far below 1% of total electricity generation, although Japan did for sometime was world leader in solar electricity production, although at that time global solar electricity production was at a low level.

As a consequence of the Fukushima disaster, there is a new focus on the development of renewable energy sources. Industrial feed-in-tariffs were introduced by law from July 1, 2012, and for domestic solar electricity generation earlier. Feed-in-tariffs since July 1, 2012, have lead to an accelerated development of renewable energy sources, which however in global comparison are still on a fairly low level overall, but progressing rapidly.

Our track record in Japan’s energy sector

  • For SIEMENS we worked on market entry preparations, market research and strategy to enter Japan’s environmental technology markets including renewable energy, energy technology (eg electricity co-generation), lean production, radiative protection, soil pollution, recycling and much more. We research deep and wide understanding, quantitative market analysis, projections into the future, and developed market entry alternatives.
  • For a San Francisco/Bay Area investment fund – and two of their investment portfolio companies – we created a broad and deep mapping of Japan’s post-Fukushima energy landscape including detailed quantitative data to assist with investment decisions for the fund and for business development and Japan market entry planning by the two portfolio companies.
  • For a Japanese energy equipment company, a subsidiary of one of Japan’s leading industrial holding companies, we explored business development options in the Japanese energy space, and created an opportunity with a US electricity generation equipment manufacturer.
  • For an investment fund we analyzed and performed due diligence on a Japanese fuel addiditive company to assist with decision making on a possible investment.
  • For a European smart meter and wireless sensor manufacturer we worked on a technical product development project to modify the sensor products for Japan’s different technical requirements.
  • For a US company selling electricity power flow market data measured by country wide networks of sensors next to electricity powerlines measuring the electro-magnetic fields, we worked on market entry to Japan, including analysis of Japan’s electricity markets and market readiness, worked on technical projects to adapt wireless sensors to Japan’s market, and worked on market entry planning.
  • and many more


Building communities – The Ludwig Boltzmann Forum – Leadership Forum – Energy – Entropy – Leadership

Gerhard founded and builds the Ludwig Boltzmann Forum https://www.boltzmann.com/forum/ as a global leadership forum in honor of his great-grandfather, Ludwig Boltzmann. In addition to in-person Ludwig Boltzmann conferences, Gerhard builds series of global Ludwig Boltzmann video conferences: https://www.youtube.com/@Ludwig-Boltzmann/videos

Conferences and presentations on Japan’s energy sector:

Energy Efficiency – Opportunities for Japan and Europe. Part of Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung Program on Energy Efficiency.

Report on Energy efficiency for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung / Japan office:

Energy Efficiency – Opportunities for Japan and Europe

Dr. Gerhard Fasol, Eurotechnology Japan KK

This report summarizes the major reasons for the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi nuclear accident and its impact, e.g. the accelerated introduction of renewable energy in Japan via feed-in-tariffs, and electricity market reform and liberalization. This report also introduces opportunities for cooperation, joint business, investments and acquisitions between Europe and Japan in the field of energy, electricity generation, efficient use of energy, and proper management of the risks associated with energy – there are many more opportunities for cooperation between Japan and Europe, beyond this report.

Details and download report as pdf-file:


Konrad Adenauer Stiftung conferences in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka on

Energy Efficiency – Economic and Ecological Potential for Japan and Europe

High energy prices are major challenges for Europe and Japan. What are the existing challenges for safe and affordable energy and what are possible solutions?

Gerhard Fasol lecture on “Japan’s Energy Efficiency – a European Viewpoint and Opportunities for Cooperation”