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Brief description:


Background and emissions

Japan is an Annex 1 party of the UNFCCC and accepted the Kyoto Protocol in June 2002. Its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the first five-year commitment term, 2008-2012, is 6% from the base year – taken as 1990 for carbon dioxide and 1995 for other GHGs. It has stated its intention not to participate in a post-2012 Kyoto Protocol and will, therefore, not be bound to UNFCCC emission reduction targets. Instead, it is expected to use opportunities for offsetting emissions, and has proposed an alternative market mechanism - a bilateral offsets crediting mechanism. 

The country's total GHG emissions in 2008, not including those caused by land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), were 1,282 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This was an increase of 6.2% since 1990. Of these emissions, the energy sector was responsible for 90.5%, followed by industrial processes, which accounted for 5.9%, agriculture at 2% and waste on 1.6%.

Actual CO2 emissions in 2008 were 1,214 million tonnes (excluding LULUCF), or 94.7% of total GHGs emissions. On a per capita basis, the figure was 9.51 tonnes. Gross domestic product accounted for 2.24 tonnes per unit – a drop of 11% since 1990.

Read Japan’s 2010 GHG inventory here.

Japan has an 80% dependence on foreign sources of energy, which has created a highly vulnerable energy supply situation. In 2007, oil supplied 47% of total energy demand, followed by coal at 21%, natural gas on 16%, and nuclear power at 10%. It is one of the world’s biggest importers of coal, and has recently cut back on plans for new nuclear power plants.  

It took an early role in combating global warming through its support of the Kyoto Protocol and by providing significant funding for research. It has been at the forefront of research into capture and sequestration technologies.

Issues and challenges

Japan comprises four major islands with more than 6,800 other smaller islands. About 80% is covered by forests and agricultural land. Given its geography, Japan’s climate varies greatly from north to south, with a sub-tropical zone in the south and a sub-arctic zone in north.

Research to date suggests that Japan will be significantly hit by the effects of climate change, such as an increase in natural disasters, and an impact on water resources, public health, food supplies and natural ecosystems. The safety and stability of Japan's urban and rural societies would likewise be affected. The country is therefore keenly aware of the need for “effective and efficient” adaptation measures.

Japan’s population in 2005 was around 127 million and, although energy consumption has dropped within industrial and transport sectors, it has risen amongst civilians. This increased demand for electric power has placed the energy sector at the top of the country’s emissions table – at 90% of total GHG emissions in 2008 – mainly due to the combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas.

Although the government recognises the potential of CCS, its main challenges continue to be high capture costs and insufficient storage capacity on Japanese territory.

Read Japan’s 2009 National Communication here.

Government commitments

In 2008, Japan's energy minister gave a statement ahead of the G8 summit in Tokyo that stressed the critical role of CCS and backed the launch of 20 large-scale CCS projects by 2020 through international cooperation.

At the UN Summit on Climate Change in September 2009, Japan announced its aim to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020 if a "fair and effective" international agreement on targets was reached among major economies. It also resolved to create a policy framework to deliver its promise, including a domestic emissions trading system, a feed-in tariff for renewable energy, and the consideration of a global warming tax.

In October 2012, the government is to introduce a 'green tax' on oil, coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels to curb CO2 emissions, with revenue raised fed into promoting renewable energies and energy efficiency. The tax will be increased in April 2014 and again in 2016.

Other measures include the establishment of the Action Program to Arrest Global Warming (1990), Basic Policy on Measures to Tackle Global Warming (1999), and the Outline for Promotion of Efforts to Prevent Global Warming (1998, 2002).

Its Kyoto Protocol Target Achievement Plan was drafted in April 2005, with the goal of achieving a 6% cut in emissions. The plan also includes efforts to meet targets in economically viable ways, along with moves to support a long-term reduction in GHG emissions worldwide. The plan was completely revised in March 2008.

Its Action Plan for Building a Low Carbon Society, released in 2008, stated the aims of reducing the costs of CO2 separation and capture by 2020, and beginning a large-scale CCS project in 2009 – a development that is still awaited. It promised to work towards implementing CCS on a commercial scale by 2020.

Within its 2009 national communication to the UNFCCC, Japan stated its aim to be a world leader in fast-tracking the development of clean technologies and measures to tackle climate change – such as energy conservation, renewable energy and nuclear energy, technological innovations and promoting a low-carbon society. It also recognised the need to share knowledge and innovation, both nationally and internationally.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of the Environment have commissioned over 100 feasibility studies of potential emissions reduction projects. Renewables, supported by a feed-in tariff, are expected to form 30% of a new energy blueprint, due in late 2012.

Regulatory framework

Moves in recent years by Japan's government show a commitment to the commercial use of CCS as a means to reduce emissions in the long term but a review of necessary legislation is in its early stages. Japan's contribution to the IEA's second CCS legal review reported no developments in CCS legislation during the six months prior to May 2011. However, it anticipated progress ahead - such as the preparation of technical and procedural documents for reviewing environmental impact assessments (EIA) and monitoring plans for storage permits. It also reported on moves to accumulate knowledge about the country’s marine ecosystems, to feed into the development of EIAs. From 2011 until 2014, the government aims to discuss long-term management systems for storage sites, such as post-injection monitoring periods and liability transfers.

Download the CCS Review here.

METI's CCS Research Group was asked in 2009 to make recommendations regarding CCS policy issues and the changes needed to facilitate large-scale deployment. As part of this, the group looked to developments and existing legal frameworks relevant to CCS in the EU, Norway, the US, Australia and Canada. It then drafted non-binding guidelines, known as Desirable Safety and Environmental Standards for the implementation of CCS.

There are currently no laws in Japan which regulate the exploration of potential onshore CO2 sequestration sites, other than the existing Mining Act of 1950. This situation remained unchanged as of July 2012 and no CCS regulatory advancements have yet been made, but the country has been accumulating knowledge about marine ecosystems in waters around Japan, as part of its environmental impact assessment review.

The equipment and facilities used during exploration must comply with relevant provisions of the Mine Safety Act and the Petroleum and Combustible Natural Gas Resources Development Act. In 2007, Japan amended its Marine Pollution Act to reflect amendments to the 1996 London Protocol, which allowed storage of CO2 under the seabed from 2010. As a result, Japan now has detailed provisions regulating the sub-seabed sequestration of CO2.

CCS Initiatives

The Japanese Government has stated its objective to develop commercially viable CCS technology by around 2020 and introduce CCS in the coal-fired power sector by 2030, as long as the technology is available. It also aims to develop commercially viable capture technology by around 2020 in the steel sector. The Environment Ministry announced in August 2012 that it intended to finalise a GHG emissions reductions roadmap by 2015, with initial work getting under way in 2013. The roadmap is expected to promote renewables as well as CCS.

Japan's industry ministry announced in March 2012 that it was due to begin tests to capture and store CO2 from power plants and factories. It has selected Tomakomai in Hokkaido as the siting of its Carbon Dioxide Reduction Technology Demonstration Project, whereby CO2 from a hydrogen production unit in Hokkaido refinery, owned by Idemitsu Kosan Co, will be transported for storage in two subsea sandstone beds off Hokkaido. Construction of test facilities are to begin in March 2013, with a view to starting operations in April 2016.

In February 2012, Japan CCS Co, a collaboration created in 2008 of about thirty Japanese companies specialising in CCS technologies, was chosen to oversee the project. It has been conducting R&D together with a feasibility study to enable large-scale testing of CCS technology.  Major shareholders include Inpex, Japan Petroleum Exploration, Tokyo Electric Power Company and JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation. With funding from the Energy Ministry, the consortium had also been assessing a number of potential testing sites for CCS in Japan. More details about Japan CCS Co here.

Within its 100 Actions to Launch Japan’s New Growth Strategy, of 2010, Japan stated its intention to allocate funds for the development, demonstration and overseas expansion of low carbon technologies, such as clean coal and CCS – to be fully operational in the late 2020s.

Its Basic Energy Plan, which was revised in 2010, states that new coal thermal plants will need to be carbon capture ready, and be equipped with CCS by 2030.

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) is an R&D think-tank set up in 1980 to develop alternative energy technologies. It now has a role in climate change policy, such as the provision of subsidies for new energy development initiatives. It also supports CCS research, development and technology demonstrations.

The Japanese government has in recent years invested in CCS-related pilot projects. In 2009, this amounted to 107.7 billion yen, to fund several initiatives. These included R&D into CCS safety assessment techniques, ocean sequestration, the Iwaki City trial project (see below), and support for the Callide Oxyfuel Project in Queensland, Australia.

Iwaki City trial

The Clean Coal Power R&D – a research facility set up by ten power companies – is running a large-scale IGCC and CCS pilot project at a coal-fired power plant in Iwaki city, Fukushima. An extensive offshore gas field is located just 60km away. The project is seen as a major effort towards reducing CO2 emissions by 60-80% by 2050. The corporation commissioned to carry out CCS aspects of the project is Japan CCS Co (see above).


To address the issue of insufficient CO2 storage capacity, Japan is conducting thorough seismic survey of subsea storage potential. It has set a target for storing 100 million tonnes per annum.

The Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) has been subsidised by the Energy Ministry to test CO2 injection and storage in Iwanohara, Nagaoka city, in cooperation with Inpex Corporation. Inpex provided technical expertise gained from experience in EOR operations. Around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 were injected at the aquifer site between 2003 and 2005. Inpex has been monitoring the site since the RITE project ended in 2007. The government hopes that the data and technical knowledge obtained will enable commercial-scale geological storage from 2015.

RITE is also conducting a sub-seabed sequestration pilot project, which was ongoing in 2009. This research was in collaboration with MIT in the US, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, and a number of other national research institutes and universities.

The Japan CO2 Geosequestration in Coal Seams Project (JCOP) at the Ishikari coalfield of Hokkaido – funded by the government – is Japan’s first CO2 storage field trial in coal seams. It is led by General Environmental Technos Co in partnership with the Japan Coal Energy Center, RITE and other companies and research agencies.

International co-operation

Japan’s Cool Earth Partnership of 2008 identified CCS as one of 21 technologies that could reduce domestic emissions. The plan was replaced in 2009 by its Hatoyama Initiative, announced at COP15, which is a national carbon regulation scheme that targets a 25% cut in global warming emissions below 1990 levels by 2020. It also aims to provide assistance to developing countries that are already making efforts to reduce GHG emissions by enabling economic growth that also contributes to climate stability – achieved through policy consultations between Japan and those countries. The Cool Earth programme had outlined Japan’s roadmap to efficient coal-fired generation and CCS. It also acknowledged that non-ocean storage potential in Japan is very limited, and that information sharing through international fora was essential.

Listen to Hatoyama Initiative 2009 briefing by Japan Science and Technology Agency.

The Asia Coalition for Climate and Energy (ACCE) is a joint industry agency with members from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. It was set up to facilitate the deployment of sustainable fossil energy and cutting-edge renewable energies. ACCE is also a stakeholder of the international Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum and the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP). The next meeting of the coalition is due to take place in Beijing, China, in August 2011.

Japan was one of the nations that formed the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate in 2006; the other countries being Australia, India, China, South Korea, Canada and the US. The partnership’s eight action plans included one on cleaner fossil-fuelled energy, and the group identified 13 project proposals for exploring clean coal and gas technologies, including CCS. It concluded its work in early 2011, with a number of its projects continuing and/or being transferred to other agencies. The partnership had also worked to build links between the public and private sector, disseminate knowledge and promote best practice.

Projects within the APP which involved Japan include an IGCC workshop held in 2006 for participants from each partner country, and the ongoing Callide Oxyfuel project, in Australia (project details in ZERO project database).

APP Callide Oxyfuel

APP IGCC and CCS Workshop in 2006

Other information

In March 2009, the GCCSI released an analysis of the status of CCS within Japan. This can be accessed here.