When Japan was recovering from the devastating tsunami, oil companies were already working on an unconventional solution: drilling a deep, shallow-water oil well deep into the ocean.
But this didn’t sit well with the nation’s people.
In Japan, oil and gas extraction is a national pastime and a tradition, with oil companies even taking their workers on long journeys across the country to drill their wells.
The result is that the country’s economy has been in a state of crisis for years.
With oil and natural gas companies struggling to make a profit, and public confidence in the country plunging, many people are skeptical about the future of their country.
And they’re right.
In fact, there is a real danger that the future is very bleak for the country, says Masahiro Kato, a senior fellow at the International Crisis Group.
The oil industry in Japan has been a model for other countries, he says.
The Japanese government and companies have been able to adapt to the changing needs of the population in the past decade and even now, with a low birthrate, it has the potential to turn around the economy and help it survive a global recession.
Kato, who has been studying oil and the Japanese economy since the 1980s, says that even though Japan’s economy is in better shape now than in recent years, there are still risks to its long-term future.
The problems facing Japan are the result of the country being in a low-carbon economy, which means that oil and other fossil fuels are not used for the primary purpose of generating electricity, he said.
The result is the economy is dependent on energy imports for most of its income, and it can’t generate its own energy.
The world is not yet seeing a sustainable world, he argues.
The world is going to be much more reliant on fossil fuels, and Japan is not ready to adapt.
Katsura Ishigaki, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo, agrees.
“I think it is clear that the Japanese oil industry will be in a much worse position than the US and Europe,” he says, noting that Japan’s current oil prices are much lower than their peak prices during the economic recession of the late 1990s.
Ishigaki also says that Japan will continue to face challenges to its ability to meet its energy needs even if the country does transition to a low carbon economy.
He points out that Japan has a high carbon intensity ratio, which translates to a higher than normal carbon footprint for an economy.
The country is also in a period of transition.
After a period when oil prices fell by about 40% during the recession of 2007-09, the country is now in a climate change-induced climate crisis, according to a recent report from the United Nations.
The country is still developing its energy infrastructure, Ishigakis says, and he warns that the economy will not be able to recover quickly.
“I think the next 10 years are going to go by very quickly, if not sooner,” he predicts.