Johns Hopkins Expert Assesses Japanese Energy Security

KAP_USJRT_2015-062This is the continuation of the series covering the eighth annual conference of the U.S.-Japan Roundtable on Nuclear Cooperation. See the coverage of METI’s presentation here.

In December, The Howard Baker Forum co-hosted the USJR annual conference with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies. This partnership was both strategic and extremely timely, as the Director of the Center, Dr. Kent Calder, is a preeminent scholar on Japanese energy security who has lived and researched in Japan for 11 years, served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, and received the Order of the Rising Sun.

Dr. Calder was a very gracious host, and contributed significantly to the program with his presentation, “Japan’s Energy Predicament since Fukushima.”

The presentation is visually engaging, maximizing upon graphics to effectively lay out the nuances of Japan’s energy security dilemma, regarding the nuclear restart and trade balances of other energy resources.

Calder chart

Beyond presenting the realities facing Japan’s energy mix, however, Dr. Calder also shared expert insight on the geopolitics of the nuclear sector, and their implications for Japan. China was a factor of significant consideration, as Dr. Calder asserted that there has been an important transformation in its operations at sea in the last two years. In response to a question pressing the issue, Dr. Calder presented two plausible views:

  1. This is an inexorable advance by the Chinese, promoting an increasingly aggressive stance.
  2. China is merely probing the power vacuum likely to — at least temporarily — exist at the end of the current U.S. Administration.

Though he refrained from asserting one or the other as absolute truth, Dr. Calder suggested that considering both U.S. and Japanese government scholarships to increase education in nuclear sciences could be an influential counterbalancing tactic.

To conclude his presentation, Dr. Calder reiterated, “Security these days means terrorism, or the geopolitical question of competition with Russia, but really there is a whole interface of factors, such as nuclear facility security.” As a whole, Dr. Calder’s presentation thoroughly encapsulates the state of Japanese energy security, especially the dramatic shift and realignment necessary in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Be sure to view the full presentation here: