The 12th GJS LectureExplaining Japan's 50-year Failure to Exploit Its Vast Geothermal Energy Resources

Date and time: June 9, 2016 (Thur.), 3:00-5:00PM
Venue: 1st Meeting Room (3rd Floor), The Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo
Speaker: Jacques E. C. Hymans (Associate Professor of International Relations, University of Southern California)
Language: English

Abstract: Japan has exploited only a tiny percentage of its vast geothermal energy resources. In the small policy literature on geothermal energy in Japan, three obstacles to its development stand out: (1) there is high investment risk; (2) the most promising geothermal fields are within national parks and therefore subject to various strict regulations; and (3) there is local “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) opposition to new power plant construction, notably among onsen hotel owners. These three obstacles are clearly the proximate causes of geothermal’s stagnation up to 2011. But I argue that none of these obstacles would be insurmountable if there had been sufficient national-level political will to develop the geothermal energy sector in Japan. I then attempt to answer why this political will was lacking for so long, despite the constant reminders of Japan's energy insecurity, and whether it is still lacking today.

Organizer: The Global Japan Studies Network (GJS)
Co-organizer: Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo
Contact: gjs[at]